Pollution to Solution: An analysis of air quality and asthma in Springfield, MA.

Problem Title

Pollution to Solution: An analysis of air quality and asthma in Springfield, MA.

Scientific Title

Electrical engineering and implementation of a low-cost nitrogen dioxide sensor in combination with geographic information system to analyze air pollution and its relation to asthma in children

Student: 
Liz Pongratz
Major(s): 
Environmental Science
iCons Concentration: 
Renewable Energy
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2015
Executive Summary 

Did you know that in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1 in 5 children have asthma? Myself and citizens of the Pioneer Valley are concerned with the effects that poor air quality can have on asthma. I'm working with Sarita Hudson, the manager of the Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition. They are running a campaign to increase awareness on how emissions from idling cars and buses are contributing to unhealthy air for students and faculty at schools.

Nitrogen dioxide and ozone are common air pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and may worsen a person's existing asthma. Lung function is reduced and emergency room visits due to asthma increase on days when ozone concentrations are high. Short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide has been linked to airway inflammation in healthy people. These gases are byproducts of fossil fuel power plants, diesel engines, and cars.

I am engineering low-cost, sensor-based Arduino technology to detect air pollution in Springfield. I am using an online makerspace called PublicLab as a community forum to share my ideas and learn best practices using do-it-yourself technology. I will program my ozone and nitrogen dioxide sensors to gather air quality data at the schools in Springfield, and areas of high traffic. I will use a GPS to track the data I collect. I will be able to use the GPS coordinates in a Geographic Information System to overlay my data onto one comprehensive map that will show the areas of poor air quality. The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition will use my map for their fight against asthma in Springfield.

Problem Keywords: 
asthma
Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition
pollution
Springfield, MA
Scientific Keywords: 
Geographic Information Systems
nitrogen dioxide
ozone