Air Pollution: How Bad is Your Neighbourhood?

Epidemiologists’ understanding of the relationship between exposure to airborne pollutants and a range of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and asthma, has grown increasingly precise in recent years.

What’s less well known is precisely where the air is most polluted.

Toronto, for example, has only four air-quality measurement stations providing real-time data, even though research shows that the concentration of pollutants such as nitric oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide can vary by orders of magnitude within an area spanning just a few city blocks.

To more precisely gauge pollution levels, Natalia Mykhaylova, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering, is developing an inexpensive air-quality monitor that could be deployed on utility poles across a city. The shoebox-sized device, which is packed with sensors and detectors that can measure the concentration of fine particles and the pollutants mentioned above, will eventually be powered by lithium batteries and small solar panels. Click here for the full story.