Indoor air quality can be as much of a health concern as the air quality outdoors. Things like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, mold and other compounds can cause things like headaches, fatigue, respiratory illnesses and worse. The EU has started to focus on how to combat indoor pollution and is funding a new nanotechnology project that would allow people to have real-time air quality information wherever they are -- at home, at work, even in the car.
Called IAQSENSE, the project aims to "develop new nanotechnology-based sensor systems that will precisely monitor the composition of the air in terms of both chemical and bio contaminants." It is designed to be both tiny and low cost so that it can be adopted widely.
The idea is that low-cost and highly sensitive sensing equipment could be located in fixed positions in peoples homes, offices and cars and connected to a network of wireless sensors to give a full picture of the air quality all around us.
Phys.org reports, "The IAQSENSE initiative relies on three patented technologies, of which one is based on surface ion mobility dynamics separating each gas component. Working like a spectrometer it allows high sensitivity and fast multi-gas detection in a way never seen before.
Its capability to detect a single and compound-type of molecule offers huge advantages for early detection of moisture, health (breath) diagnosis, smoke and drugs."
Ideally, the results from their research will be adapted into a reliable technology that can be mass-produced. The researchers also plan to find ways to adapt it for use in smartphones, making the air quality sensing mobile.