Study on Sensors

Low-cost sensor networks for indoor air quality monitoring

Recent developments in the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT) have enabled the use of sensors as environmental monitoring networks. As sensor technologies advance, the quality and the quantity of parameters that can be measured increases, while economies of scale drive costs down. In many parts of the world, sensor networks are being used to inform people about the concentrations of pollutants in their homes and in their neighborhoods.

In collaboration with Academia Sinica in Taiwan, we have developed a sensor package designed for the characterization of acute exposures to particulate matter and volatile organic compounds during and after natural disasters. The RESCUE network (Rapid Environmental Sensing for Critical and Urgent Events) is capable of measuring four environmental parameters: Particulate Matter, Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs), temperature, and relative humidity and send data to a cloud server. The TVOC sensor is sensitive at the parts per billion level, and is able to remain operative for longer deployments without performance degradation.

We are currently using the RESCUE network to characterize environmental exposures in homes affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Our goal is to demonstrate the usefulness of these devices in detecting higher concentrations of the monitored parameters, with the intention of developing improved disaster response guidelines that protect human health.