• 09.16.09

Pocket-Sized Pollution Sensor Begins Testing

It’s no secret that residents of carcinogen-thick cities have above average incidences of asthma. Now a new generation of pocket-sized pollution detectors, developed by scientists at Columbia University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, could pinpoint the types of toxic air particles inhaled by people on a daily basis.

air pollution monitor

In the past, pollution sensors have been too large and unwieldy–often weighing as much as a baby–to be suitable for everyday use. The new sensor, however, is just 15 centimeters long, under 7.5 centimeters wide, and weighs no more than a Walkman. And unlike earlier models that emanated a buzzing sound, the small sensor is virtually silent.

air pollution monitor inside

The pollution sensor is not without its flaws. It doesn’t work if placed inside a backpack or purse, and can be thrown off if hidden under a coat. That means kids have to wear a specially designed asthma vest, which should make them quite popular in the playground–although it has not yet been scientifically proven to increase the chances that these kids will be the center of ridicule, we think it’s pretty likely.

[Via Scientific American]

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.