Air pollution is a very serious and deadly problem. Numerous regulations have been adopted over the past few years, particularly in industrialised nations, which have led to a demonstrable improvement in air quality. Despite this, however, according to the WHO there are still seven million deaths per year that occur as a consequence of air pollution.
Pictures of China's smoggy megacities such as Shanghai or Beijing, in particular, are regularly circulated around the world and clearly show the extent of the problem. But it is not only in places where the skies are dark all day long and the air forces people to wear dust masks that air quality is a problem. People in other regions of the world also suffer from respiratory problems without directly being able to definitively prove the source of their complaint, which means they are unable to demand the introduction of specific state regulation. For this reason, awareness of existing air pollution is the first step in addressing the problem.
In recent years, more and more cost-effective and technologically simple sensors that give citizens the possibility of proving poor air quality in their area with the use of quantitative data have come onto the market. These sensors can be installed in every household and measure important data such as CO2 content, humidity, and many other variables. One such device is the Air Quality Egg (AQE).
In contrast to the AQE, the DustDuino concentrates exclusively on the amount of dust particles present in the air, which are proven to be primarily responsible for the majority of respiratory and lung-related disorders. The advantage of only measuring levels of one substance is above all that many of these devices can be distributed very quickly and they are very simple to use. The sensor is combined with an Arduino-compatible board and transmits the data it collects directly to a server. Because of the open-source character of Arduino, the information is made publicly available and can be utilised for other purposes. Citizens of a community can then use such information as a basis for demanding specific regulations to improve air quality, and in the long run, help reduce the amount of fine dust particles in the air that we all breathe.