In partnership with AllerGen, for the past four years Dr. Greg Evans and his research team at the University of Toronto have been developing “AirSENCE,” a novel technology for monitoring air quality. Their work is now going public in a high-profile way, to coincide with the opening of the PanAm Games in Toronto.
Using prototypes of their AirSENCE devices, the team has launched AirSensors (www.airsensors.ca), a website that indicates air quality in locations across Toronto in real time. The site will provide air quality information publicly until the end of Pan and Parapan Am Games.
The site features an interactive map of the city. As Dr. Evans instructs: “Just click on any location to see the air quality health index (AQHI) and the estimated concentrations of a number of air pollutants over the last three days. Clicking on multiple sites allows you to compare them. You can also click on the pull down on top of the legend to map AQHI, NOx, O3 or particulate matter.”
The site also provides, for comparison, air quality readings from monitoring stations operated by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, and by the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR, where Dr. Evans and his team are based).
Regarding the long-term applications of AirSENCE, Dr. Evans observes: “This new technology will enable users to manage their exposures to outdoor or indoor pollutants, thereby reducing both the risk of exacerbations of pre‐existing health conditions, like asthma, and of development of chronic disease through long term exposure.”
Because the devices will be inexpensive and relatively portable, they will allow more people to access knowledge about air pollution in the immediate environment in real time, which, Dr. Evans notes, “offers the over‐arching benefits of personalized health by providing individuals information that they can then act upon.”
Read the press release.