Improving air pollution monitoring with IoT sensors

Nine out of ten people around the world breathe polluted air, the World Health Organization reveals. Moreover, seven million people worldwide and between 90,000 to 360,000 in the US die every year due to conditions linked to air pollution.

By implementing IoT air quality monitoring systems, says freelance journalist Jocelyn Brown, cities can better monitor and control air pollution. In fact, the US Government Accountability Office has recommended the Environmental Protection Agency should implement an asset management framework involving affordable air quality sensors to collect data in order to better tackle the problem of air pollution.

Air quality sensors

Air quality Internet of Things (IoT) sensors work alongside traditional air quality monitoring technology to collect greater volumes of granular data. These sensors track temperature, humidity, altitude, atmospheric pressure, carbon dioxide levels, as well as pollutants like methane, carbon monoxide, and ammonium. Chicago, in particular, has already adopted these sensors throughout the city.

In turn, the data can be used to minimise air quality problems and protect residents. Vehicle halts and diversions, road closures, and avoidance recommendations are some of the responses implemented based on the collected data. The air quality sensors can either be attached to private and public vehicles or implemented into existing road infrastructure.

How people can avoid air pollution

At the moment, there’s no option for the general public to access real-time data about national pollution levels. So, in the future, it’s expected apps will be developed to inform people of problem locations with high levels of pollution to avoid. Inside the home, people can use air purifiers to eradicate impurities like dust, pet dander, and smoke and maintain clean and healthy air.

HVAC systems are also important for keeping indoor air comfortable. They must, however, be the right size for each home. An HVAC system that’s too big ends up wasting energy, while a system too small for the home won’t keep it as warm or cool as needed.

Smart plants

Jocelyn Brown

To further minimise indoor air pollution, Urban Air Labs have developed Ubreathe, an IoT air purifier that filters dust and biological and gaseous contaminants from the air and decreases carbon dioxide build-up thanks to the use of living, breathing plants. Equipped with IoT connection capabilities, Ubreathe also offers smart control options and information about indoor air quality, can alert if air pollution levels go too high, and shows the health status of the plant.

This is an important development since indoor air pollution levels can often be up to five times higher than outdoor levels. Ubreathe also works with a mobile app allowing the homeowner to access this vital information remotely. It’s set to be available in the near future for both residential and commercial environments. 

The problem of air pollution can be effectively tackled with the help of innovative and increasingly accessible IoT technologies. Air quality sensors and smart plants, in particular, can help improve air quality both indoors and outdoors and, in turn, improve the quality of life for everyone. 

The author of this article is freelance journalist Jocelyn Brown.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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