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Your Environment. Your Health.

Wearable Sensor Monitors Personal Exposure to VOCs

Nongjian Tao
Arizona State University
NIEHS Grant U01ES016064


An NIEHS grantee and his colleagues developed a wearable sensor that measures personal exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sends that information to a smart phone. The new device allows indoor and outdoor measurements, requires little training to use, and can provide important information about when, where, and how people experience exposure to contaminants.


The sensor can measure concentrations of aromatic, alkyl, and chlorinated hydrocarbons with a resolution as low as four parts per billion (ppb) and a detection range of four ppb to 1,000,000 ppb. It generates data every three minutes and sends this information to a smartphone, where an application processes the data and displays the results.


The researchers field-tested the sensor in several scenarios. They measured exposure to traffic-related pollutants in different cities, pollutants near the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and indoor air quality during remodeling. The field tests validated the performance of the new technology and also showed that it could provide high temporal and spatial information on contaminant exposure.


Citation: Chen C, Campbell KD, Negi I, Iglesias RA, Owens P, Tao N, Tsow F, Forzani E. 2012. A New Sensor for the Assessment of Personal Exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds. Atmos Environ 54:679-687.

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