Networked Portable Personal Aerosol Sensors

Award Information
Department of Health and Human Services
Award Year:
Phase I
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Small Business Information
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
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(703) 236-3572
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Environmental factors such as toxins and pollutants are known to have a strong correlation to the incidence of various common human diseases. However, a critical shortcoming in quantitative studies of the correlation is the lack of robust, reliable, and inexpensive devices to measure the personal exposure to pollutants. Further, studies over extended periods of time and over a large population requires the development of a personal environmental monitoring device that me asures the exposure of the individual to environmental factors. Aginova Inc. and Washington University in St. Louis plan to develop a portable personal monitor and a data collection infrastructure that will facilitate a high resolution reliable monitoring for individuals over extended periods of time. The project will develop a wireless enabled device that will monitor the particulate matter in air and autonomously transport the data for analysis. In addition the device architecture will allow easy extensib ility to add additional sensors, measurement schemes and access requirements. The measurement system being proposed here will consist of the three parts: (1) the particulate matter sensor subsystem, (2) the data collection and transport subsystem, and (3) the data storage and analysis subsystem. While the device platform will allow the inclusion of different sensing elements, the project will focus on developing and integrating a Particulate Matter sensor. The particulate matter sensing element is based on the research being done at Washington University and measures the mass distribution of particles by size. The aerosol particulate matter sensor uses a piezoelectric sensing element. The crystal vibrates at its high resonance frequency when electric field i s applied. However, the resonant frequency of the crystal decreases with the increase of the mass deposited on its surface. This phenomenon provides the mechanism to directly measure the Particulate Matter mass concentrations. The collection, recording and transport of the data are critical for the usability of the portable device. The project will use an innovative solution to the usability of the sensor devices that is low cost and robust. Recent technological breakthrough in smart dust wireless sensors has provided an elegant and cost effective method to build distributed autonomous monitoring systems. The project will use a wireless network of sensors to build the infrastructure for continuous Particulate Matter monitoring. Besides having no need for e xpensive and cumbersome connection procedures the wireless technology being proposed here is self organizing and self maintaining. Therefore both setup and maintenance costs for such an infrastructure is low and usability is high. At the end of the propose d research and development, the project will deliver a working prototype of a personal portable particulate matter sensor and the data measurement infrastructure. Experiments to calibrate the sensing and evaluate the data collection mechanisms will be cond ucted. The instruments will be ready for field trials in environmental studies. The project proposes a research program to design and develop a measurement system that will allow public health researchers to do in-depth studies of the impact of environment al element exposures such as particulate matter, pollutants and toxins on human health. Further, such as system will give health researchers the ability to perform continuous exposure studies over large population segments and over extended periods of time . In the long term, individuals belonging to population segments vulnerable to specific environmental agents can be monitored for aggregate exposure and preventive actions can be taken before the onset of disease.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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