Dust Alert sensor monitors air in the home or office

Professor Eyal Ben-Dor and his Ph.D. student Dr Sandra Chudnovsky, of Tel aviv University's Department of Geography have developed a sensor called ‘Dust Alert’ which measures the concentration of small particles that may contaminate the air in your home.

Functioning like a tiny chemistry lab, the device can precisely determine the chemical composition of the toxins in the air, so homeowners, office managers and factories can act to improve air quality.
Based on a portable chemical analyzer called a spectrophotometer, the invention can be installed and begin to collect data within minutes, although several weeks' worth of samples produces the best assessment of air quality. The longer period allows for fluctuations in both internal and external environments, such as changing weather patterns.

Using the measurements, Prof. Ben-Dor can sometimes find a quick remedy for a dusty or pollen-filled home; the solution could be as easy as keeping a window open. He can also give an accurate forecast about the health of a home or apartment - invaluable for  prospective home owners wit any kind of inhaled allergy.

The device may be most useful in the aftermath of disasters, such as chemical fires, heavy dust storms, hurricanes or tragedies like 9/11. Survivors of these situations are usually unaware of the lingering environmental problems, and the government can't do enough to protect them because no accurate tools exist to define the risk. Using a Dust Alert, residents could be advised to vacate their homes and offices until the dust has cleared, or to take simple precautions such as aerating hazardous rooms in a flat.

The  Dust Alert could also be used by cities and counties to develop "dust maps" that provide detailed environmental information about streets and neighborhoods, permitting government authorities like the EPA to more successfully identify and prosecute offenders. Currently, for example, there is no system for demonstrating how construction sites compromise people's health.

Journal Science of the Total Environment, Urban Air Pollution: Problems, Control Technologies and Management Practices.

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First Publishd September 2009

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