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

en sleeps to conserve battery power, said Jones.

Bayer and GTRI Research Scientist Robert Hendry calibrated and tested the sensors in a large room-sized chamber that simulates real-world environmental conditions inside buildings. Coupled with sensitive mass spectrometers, the chamber allows the changing indoor air chemistry to be studied in detail.

The sensor system is designed to be comfortably worn in the pockets of a vest throughout the day and kept at the bedside while sleeping at night. Another vest pocket contains an electronic peak flow meter to periodically measure pulmonary function. When experiencing an asthma attack, the vest wearer notes what time it occurred and Bayer can examine the levels of the chemical compounds at that time.

Six adult volunteers have tested the vest for comfort and the effectiveness of the sensor system under actual use conditions. And that has already brought benefits for one volunteer, whose vest detected higher volatile organic exposures in his home than anywhere else. That led researchers to discover a pollutant pathway from the volunteers basement garage into the living areas that was allowing automobile exhaust and gasoline fumes to invade the house.

With future funding, Bayer hopes to develop a smaller and more sensitive sensor system, test the current vest in population studies of asthmatic children and develop software to process the population studies data as it is collected.

With this system we can determine what children are exposed to at home, at school and outside where they play, said Bayer. Chances are there are some overreaching compounds that seem to trigger asthma attacks in more children.


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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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