Speck: A Device to Monitor Indoor Air Pollution

Illah Nourbakhsh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s “CREATE Lab,”  recently developed a new device for monitoring types of indoor air pollution. The Speck is an indoor air quality monitor that detects fine particulate matter that are between 0.5 microns and 3.0 microns in size. It then uses this information to estimate PM2.5 levels in the air and reports on these particle concentrations that informs you about the changes and trends of particle concentration within your home. It is not to be mistaken that the Speck can measure carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide, and VOCs although they are working on it as we speak. The issue is that measuring the levels of the compounds previously stated is not a cheap process. What the Speck does measure inexpensively and reliably, however, is fine particles which are directly linked to asthma, cardiovascular disease, and arrhythmia as well as many other adverse health effects. And Speck can detect unhealthy levels of particulates cheaper and more precisely than any other product. The Speck is enabled by Wi-Fi where your data is uploaded to a free website where it stores it and provides analytical tools. The website then provides you with ways in which the indoor air pollution within your home can be improved. Speck is available online for sale and is already be used in Pittsburgh where the air pollution is the worst in the United States next to cities in California. Specks were also bought by libraries in Pittsburgh that are available for rent so people of lower income households, where indoor air pollution is the worst, can benefit from them. If one cannot buy the relatively inexpensive device, they are able to rent one for a couple weeks. Nourbakhsh says that the ultimate goal of Speck is to change behaviors. Since the quality of air can be affected by a variety of ordinary household activities the Speck can help you identify what habits have the most significant effect on indoor air pollution and change it. What Nourbakhsh wants is people to identify how what they do changes the particulate matter in their house and, ultimately, correct it. He says "You start to connect how you feel and what you smell with what you see and pretty soon, you don't need the Speck anymore.

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