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Air Pollution App Finds Healthier Commuting Routes

By giving commuters small devices that measure the quality of air on their way to and from work, researchers hope they can create a network that more accurately measures the health effects of pollution. 

What’s the Latest Development?

By creating a network of tiny air quality monitors, researchers at the University of San Diego’s medical school hope to give commuters, especially those travelling by bicycle or on foot, more information about choosing healthy routes to work. Called CitiSense, the device is designed to monitor the air for ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, the most common pollutants from car and truck traffic. “We want to get more data and better data, which we can provide to the public,” the monitors’ lead developer, William Griswold, said in a statement. “We are making the invisible visible.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The EPA already requires cities to maintain air quality monitoring stations but those stations are often too sparse to detect street-by-street differences and recent experiments with the CitiSense device show that pollution levels can vary significantly over juts a few yards. “In the future, if the monitors become more widespread, they could help researchers perform more-precise studies about how air pollution exposure affects people’s health… Previous studies have linked air pollution to increased risk for lung and heart diseases.”

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