Air sensing technology reveals adverse impact of Delhi smog

Gurugram: Commuters walk on a road amid low visibility due to fog, on a cold winter morning in Gurugram, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo)
Gurugram: Commuters walk on a road amid low visibility due to fog, on a cold winter morning in Gurugram, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi, January 19 (IANS): Delhi-based Karuna Chauhan tracked the air pollution exposure throughout the daily routine in phases and found that the pollution level increased with time, a global technology company Dyson's report said on Tuesday.

Karuna tracked the air pollution exposure by using a Dyson wearable air sensing backpack that tracks air pollution exposure by collecting air pollution data on the move.

"Using our unique algorithm to process detailed reports of air pollution exposure, this innovative technology allows us to monitor air quality indoors, outdoors and on the move. What's more, it all fits within a backpack," Alex Knox, Vice President of Environmental Care at Dyson, said in a statement.

The air quality backpack was initially developed by Dyson engineers for the Breathe London study with Kings College London and the Greater London Authority.

Dyson engineers analysed the findings by pairing the air sensor and GPS data from the backpack with Karuna's diary entries, where she documented her activities and observations in the period wearing the air quality backpack. This allowed them to understand what may have caused the pollution and how Karuna might be able to lower her exposure in the future.

"The reality of air pollution hits homes every year with the onset of winters, which bring a thick smog cover, making it a hazard for everyone," Karuna, who is among a group of volunteers and journalists globally working with Dyson to raise awareness about air pollution, said in a statement.

Karuna wore the backpack on October 3, 2020 (Phase 1) and then again on November 8, (Phase 2), repeating the same activities and routine, which included cooking at home to yoga in the park, in each phase to allow for a comparison of the two time periods.

In November, the deterioration in air quality was visible with a thick smog descending on the city.

Compared to Phase 1, the pollution data collected in Phase 2 indicated a significant increase in PM2.5 levels, with average levels rising by 459 per cent. These levels remained high both indoors and outdoors, irrespective of the activity taking place.

Karuna's Phase 1 data highlights how air quality can be impacted by daily activities.

Actions like frying food in the kitchen caused a five-fold increase in PM2.5, while visiting an outdoor market caused NO2 levels to rise to 2,500ppb, which registers as very poor on the Dyson AQI scale.

Karuna's exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 pollution peaked while she was driving on the Expressway. This is unsurprising as these are pollutants commonly associated with vehicle emissions as well as brake and tyre wear.