One more year has passed, one more orbit around the Sun, but still in many places of the world air pollution remains the number one threat for the health of the dwellers and the stability of the ecosystem. The political unwillingness to address air pollution and lots of green-washing from companies haven’t alleviated the situation anywhere. Sad, but even the COP26 was a bit of a fiasco as the leaders of this planet and the majority of the population are still trying to process the information of climate change and air pollution. Apparently, the world doesn’t want to sacrifice convince over the quality of life and life expectancy.
Megalomania and individualism are tearing the ecosystem apart and polarizing the society into left or right, pro-climate or anti-climate, pro-clean air (anapneism), or burn as much fossil fuel, waste and wood as possible. Plastic pollution is another big issue as well.
It has been a long time since I reviewed a face mask. This mask review is all about how to protect yourself from ambient air pollution while commuting rather than from Covid-19. The mask can protect you from COVID because it is KN95 certified, which is similar to FFP2 and N95, but as most people use simple disposable surgical masks for their low price, I won’t focus on it. For this review, I decided to focus on air pollution which is a more severe threat in my opinion. Keep in mind, cheap surgical masks are useless and they pollute a lot more than they protect as they are thrown all around us by most people. We all have seen them flying around or on the ground or inside the sea. I am against disposable masks.
The AIRINUM Lite Air Mask offers great protection from particulate matter but also a modern and young style. I have been wearing the Aurora Blue for three weeks already and I am impressed by its performance.
Amazon, the big and multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce has decided to enter into the game of indoor air quality in a rather surprising way. I will explain why in a minute.
In November 2021, Amazon announced that they will build and sell an air quality monitor. I was the first to discover that the monitor will feature the brand new SEN54 Node by Sensirion which is an all-in-one sensor solution for the measurement of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity, and temperature. Amazon offered a great deal to Sensirion because the Node isn’t available to others yet.
By the way, back in 2018, I contacted Amazon for the development of an Indoor Air Quality Monitor, but they weren’t aware of the Indoor AQ situation then, however, in the pandemic they grasped the business opportunity. Indoor AQ is a huge deal and even though they didn’t collaborate with me (no hard feelings).
We have indoor air quality monitors and purifiers to manage indoor air, but even the most intelligent domestic devices cannot inspect all the air pollutants present in our indoor spaces, so I thought it was about time to send a filter from the main air purifier to a laboratory for analysis in order to identify all the pollutants that have been present in my house. Maybe there is something I am not aware!
I try my best to keep outdoor pollutants from entering inside like smoke from wood-burning stoves or fumes from vehicle traffic. However, we are humans and we make mistakes, so sometimes we burn the food or introduce pollutants indoors unconsciously.
We humans can smell some pollutants like PAHs or VOCs but sometimes we are unable to detect heavy metals or other pollutants that our nose isn’t able to register, yet we may breathe them. Air purifiers or central HVAC with a filtration system capture those pollutants in the filter media. Then we can analyze the filter and discover aspects of the pollution we hadn’t thought about before.
Countless times I have mentioned that we need to monitor indoor and outdoor air quality. This is an essential step in order to have a holistic approach to air pollution that surrounds us in both environments. Unfortunately, not everybody can afford to buy two monitors but thanks to the community and AirGradient there are two DIY solutions that can help us monitor the air quality quite accurately and of course, manage the air we breathe better.
AirGradient’s DIY solution is more appealing than the competition for many reasons. First of all, you can buy directly the DIY Kit with all the electronic components from them including the PCB. The PCB is the board where we will deploy all the sensors, WiFi module, and display. That is a huge benefit because you don’t have to search on the internet and purchase the components one by one. The well-designed PCB will also help us keep the monitor neat and small without unnecessary cables. Secondly, Air Gradient’s DIY AQ Monitor is very customizable allowing us to build an indoor monitor with an NDIR CO2 sensor but another one without a CO2 sensor or display for the outdoor environment. If you don’t want temperature/humidity sensors you can easily omit them too, but I highly recommend them. Moreover, there is software support as a community of passionate people have been improving the firmware constantly. Finally, the solution comes with a web dashboard where you can manage all the monitors and take advantage of the histograms and tools like the alerts.
Additionally, the devices which are connected to the cloud and the dashboard can broadcast the measurements back to a separate display (Viewport) which allows us to see the air quality indoors and outdoors like in the example below. Isn’t that very cool?
It has been a long time since I soldered something, so I was very happy to build the monitor. I built two monitors by following the fairly easy instruction here. There is also a video with the instructions here by Jeff Geerling.