HomeWorld NewsLow-Cost Device To Measure Air Pollution Anywhere: MIT Study Explains How It...

Low-Cost Device To Measure Air Pollution Anywhere: MIT Study Explains How It Works

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To know the extent of air pollution, people in urban centres around the world depend on data from government or government-authorised agencies. While the data is often reliable and easy to access online, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have sought to make it even more accessible by creating a device that people can use themselves.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The mobile pollution detector is called Flatburn. The original version dates back to 2017, but scientists are now rolling out an open-source, low-cost version. It can be made by 3D printing or by ordering inexpensive parts.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scientists have described the device in a paper, &lsquo;Leveraging Machine Learning Algorithms to Advance Low-Cost Air Sensor Calibration in Stationary and Mobile Settings&rsquo;, in the journal Atmospheric Environment.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, the new version has been in New York City and the Boston area. The detectors measured concentrations of fine particulate matter as well as nitrogen.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In New York, five detectors collected 1.6 million data points over four weeks in 2021. In Boston, researchers evaluated the Flatburn devices against existing pollution measuring systems.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In both areas, the amount of fine particulate matter measured by the mobile was somewhat lower than the concentrations measured by existing devices. However, according to a statement released from MIT, the correlation between the two sets of measurements is strong enough to infer that the Flatburn devices can produce reliable results, with adjustments for weather conditions and other factors.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The researchers will be publicly releasing all the information about the device &mdash; how to build it, use it, and interpret the data.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&ldquo;The goal is for community groups or individual citizens anywhere to be able to measure local air pollution, identify its sources, and, ideally, create feedback loops with officials and stakeholders to create cleaner conditions,&rdquo; the release quoted Carlo Ratti, director of MIT&rsquo;s Senseable City Lab, as saying.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If the devices are used on top of automobiles, they will have an operating life of six months, the researchers found. They also identified other potential issues that users may face. However, the researchers believe the units will function well, the release said.</span></p>

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