Editorial Feature

Monitoring Air Pollution Exposure with Innovative Wearable Sensors

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Rising Concern Over Air Pollution

Air pollution has been an environmental and health concern for decades. It has long been understood that the fumes released from motor vehicles and industries have a detrimental impact on both the health of humans and the planet. It is now considered to be a public health emergency, encouraging scientists to innovate ways to monitor and reduce air pollution as a matter of priority.

Recent studies have revealed that as many as one in nine deaths worldwide is attributed to exposure to toxic air. It is the most significant environmental risk of early death, claiming more people's lives each year than HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. A growing body of research provides evidence that supports links between exposure to air pollution and a plethora of diseases, including several cancers, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Recent studies also show associations between air pollution and suicide and depression.

Air pollution is a health risk that affects most people, with more than 90% of people worldwide living in areas where air pollution exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WTO) guidelines.

Scientists are currently focussed on understanding more about PM2.5 pollution, referring to air pollutants that measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These tiny molecules pose the greatest threat to human health, given their ability to penetrate deep into the lung, causing irritation and even corruption of the alveolar wall, resulting in lung damage. Recent data indicates that PM2.5 pollution is increasing rapidly. In the US alone, this kind of pollution showed a 5.5% increase between 2016 and 2018.

Given the significant impact air pollution has on health, the fact that air pollution impacts almost everyone on the planet, and that levels of pollutants are rising, tackling this issue has become a priority of healthcare systems worldwide.

Air pollution monitoring has emerged as a significant route to tackling the problem, allowing scientists to measure pollutants in the air in real-time to understand how humans are being exposed to these pollutants, helping them develop effective new preventative measures.

What gas sensors are on the market today?

The Development of New, Wearable Sensors

AerNos is set to revolutionize the way scientists monitor human exposure to air pollution. The company has utilized the latest advances in engineering, data science, and nanotechnology to produce a nano gas sensor that can simultaneously measure multiple air pollutants. The sensor is relatively low-cost to make and suitable for large-scale production, making it ideal for the widespread adoption needed to tackle air pollution.

The technology uses air pollution exposure sensors and can be worn or attached via a clip to conduct 24/7 air pollution monitoring. There is also an app that has been designed to track air pollution in real-time, collect historical information, and evaluate recommended actions.

With the innovation from AerNos, scientists will take air pollutant measurements around the clock and leverage data to help consumers reduce their exposure to harmful toxins, protecting their health.

AerNos Nano Gas Sensors

Video Credit: AerNos Inc/YouTube.com

Protecting Those At-Risk and the Environment

As a San Diego-based expert in innovative nano gas sensors, AerNos has developed a solution that will help protect those who are particularly at risk from the negative impact of air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has outlined that specific populations in areas with more carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases are more vulnerable to climate change. Studies have shown that the elderly, children and those with lower socioeconomic status are at a greater risk of suffering from poor health and even death due to exposure to air pollution.

Increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been linked to rising frequencies of asthma attacks and aggravate lung diseases. Data shows us that elevated ozone levels are linked with rises in hospitalizations and premature death.

As well as the burden on human health, air pollution also poses a threat to environmental health. Studies have demonstrated that rises in greenhouse gases are associated with various detrimental effects on the environment, such as loss of diversity, changes in water quality and crop quality, and nutrient cycles. The innovation from AerNos will also help prevent further damage to our environment, mainly through monitoring areas highlighted as high-risk.

While the public is becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of air pollution, the current monitoring systems offer little in the way of assisting and encouraging the behavioral changes that are vital to protect the general population and, in particular, those in at-risk groups from the health implications of exposure to air pollution. The offering from AerNos allows for around the clock, real-time air pollution monitoring, allowing people to make impactful change.

Click here to find out more about AerNos nano gas sensors technology

References and Further Reading

AerNos. https://www.aernos.com

Air Pollution: Current and Future Challenges. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/air-pollution-current-and-future-challenges#_edn3

Air pollution: everything you should know about a public health emergency. Damian Carrington. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/05/air-pollution-everything-you-should-know-about-a-public-health-emergency

Americas Air Quality Worsens, Ending Years of Gains, Study Says. Nadja Popovich. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/24/climate/air-pollution-increase.html

Gu, X., Liu, Q., Deng, F., Wang, X., Lin, H., Guo, X. and Wu, S., 2019. Association between particulate matter air pollution and risk of depression and suicide: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 215(2), pp.456-467. https://search.proquest.com/openview/b3033cfc360c67dbdfd387097661b72f/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=40635

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Sarah Moore

Written by

Sarah Moore

After studying Psychology and then Neuroscience, Sarah quickly found her enjoyment for researching and writing research papers; turning to a passion to connect ideas with people through writing.

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