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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Cincinnati

Development of a Personal Ultrafine PM Sensor

Sang Young Son

Project Description

Particulate matter (PM) comprises a significant portion of air pollution. Particles in the range less than 1.0 micron (PM1.0) are of particular concern, as these deposits in the lung exponentially with decreasing size. Within the alveoli, PM has the potential to initiate inflammatory and immune responses.


Particles < 1.0 micron are a heterogeneous mixture based on source generation and composition. Studies have shown that particle number, irrespective of composition, is a critical aspect of macrophage-mediated alveolar clearance due to an "avalanche" effect.


Understanding the potential impact of particles on human health is hampered by our ability to accurately characterize average, peak, and cumulative personal exposures in population studies. The study has focused on developing a miniature personal sensor for the detection of PM1.0 that is field worthy and child friendly. The result has been to enable numerous applications by providing real time particle counting synchronized with geolocation data independently of both physical orientation and normal human activity.


This study is unique due to the personal and wearable sensor package, which allows for constant wear during the daily activities of young children, and the incorporation of the GPS device, which enables the location of specific exposures  to be recorded and the ability to monitor PM in a size range from 0.005 to 1.0 micron. The need for personal monitors capable of measuring micro-environmental PM exposure is especially relevant where exposures to many pollutants is highly variable even across short distances, particularly in urban areas and wherever variability depends upon personal activity patterns.


See this project's publications and patents 

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