Urban pollution attracted quite a lot of attention over the past few months, with concentrations of toxic emissions the world’s metropolitan cities of Beijing, London and Paris reaching the highest levels ever.
Nevertheless, the importance of indoor air pollution have never been taken off the radar, and many researchers and governmental officials are still trying to combat it, although slightly more quietly. A new project, called IAQSENSE, funded by the EU, now draws attention to the importance of monitoring of indoor pollution, and more precisely concentrations of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. The team behind it is looking into developing sensor systems based on nanotechnology, which can safely and cheaply do this.
The proposed technology is designed in a way that could be fitted pretty much everywhere, as one of its main advantages is its tiny size. Because the concept is based on already existing technologies, the sensors would work exactly like the big spectrometers found in labs. They will be sensitive enough to distinguish between each gas molecule, allowing early detection of increasing concentrations.
The project is still in its infancy, but already holds a lot of promises. For starters, everyone would be able to afford a home-based monitoring system and hopefully be able to prevent accumulation of toxic gases in their living space before they reach dangerous concentrations. What is more, if the technology develops in the way it is planned, the sensors might even be made suitable for being built in regular smartphones, providing a portable air-quality monitoring system.
It is likely that this technology would not be affordable to people, who most need it, as indoor pollution in developing countries, where kerosene lamps and open stoves are used on a daily basis, poses enormous risks to human health. Nevertheless, if made available for mass production in the EU, it might well be that soon the technology advances to an extent to which the cost of its production is brought to minimum and it becomes a reality in every single household around the world.
Image (c) Reuters