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Investigating causes of asthma attacks: New sensor system monitors environmental exposure
Date:1/22/2008

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a sensor system that continuously monitors the air around persons prone to asthma attacks. Worn in the pockets of a vest, the new system could help researchers understand the causes of asthma attacks.

We are investigating whether we can go back after an asthma attack and see what was going on environmentally when the attack started, said Charlene Bayer, a GTRI principal research scientist.

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and initial funding from the GTRI Independent Research and Development (IRAD) program.

Although no one fully understands why certain people get asthma, doctors know that once a person has it, his/her lungs can overreact to environmental stimuli causing chest tightness or breathlessness, known as an asthma attack.

The new sensor system measures airborne exposure to formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, temperature, relative humidity and total volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted as gases from products such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticide formulations, building materials and furnishings, office equipment and craft materials.

In addition to detecting the seven environmental stimuli mentioned above, a special mesh filter collects particles. A pump pulls air through the filter so that the quantity of particles can be measured at the end of the sampling period. The composition of the collected particulate can also be analyzed in the laboratory.

The battery-powered system fits into the pocket of a vest and contains commercially available sensors that were integrated into a single system by Mark Jones, chief executive officer of Keehi Technologies.

The device weighs less than one pound including batteries and it takes a measurement of air every two minutes, stores the data in on-board memory and th
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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