Prof. Ben-Dor's device may be most useful in the aftermath of disasters, such as chemical fires, heavy dust storms, hurricanes or tragedies like 9/11. Survivors of these situations are usually unaware of the lingering environmental problems, and the government can't do enough to protect them because no accurate tools exist to define the risk. Using a Dust Alert, residents could be advised to vacate their homes and offices until the dust has cleared, or to take simple precautions such as aerating hazardous rooms in a flat, suggests Prof. Ben-Dor.
Putting dust on the map
According to Prof. Ben-Dor, the Dust Alert could also be used by cities and counties to develop "dust maps" that provide detailed environmental information about streets and neighborhoods, permitting government authorities like the EPA to more successfully identify and prosecute offenders. Currently, for example, there is no system for demonstrating how construction sites compromise people's health.
"Until now, people have had to grin and bear the polluted air they breathe," says Prof. Ben-Dor. "The Dust Alert could provide crucial reliable evidence of pollution, so that society at large can breathe easier. We can see the dust on the furniture and on the windows, but most of us can't see the dust we breathe. For the first time, we are able to detect it and measure its more dangerous components."
With their dust maps, TAU scientists have already correlated urban heat islands with high levels of particulate matter, giving urban planners crucial i
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University