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Design a Wearable Air Quality Index Monitor


Areas of Science
Time Required
Short (2-5 days)
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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You can look up information about local air pollution, such as the Air Quality Index (AQI), online or even get alerts on your phone. But what if you could wear a device that continuously monitors the air quality around you in real time, alerting you to unsafe levels? Such a device could alert a person with asthma when they need to go inside, let you know if smoke from a nearby wildfire is drifting in your direction, or signal when it is time to take a break on a hazy summer day. The Science Buddies Wearable Air Quality Sensor activity shows you how to use a single dust sensor that senses particulate matter. The activity has step-by-step instructions on how to program a small, wearable, Arduino-compatible board to light up different color LEDs based on the particulate levels. However, the Air Quality Index measures other pollutants in addition to particulate matter, including ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. You will need additional sensors to measure these other pollutants.

Can you build a wearable device that measures all of the pollutants included in the Air Quality Index? Can you calculate the AQI value based on the levels of the various pollutants? To do this, you will need to look up the formula used to calculate AQI developed by the EPA. Then, can you program your device to provide real-time feedback to the user about air quality? This could be in the form of color-coded LEDs, a display that prints out the AQI, or even a warning buzzer.

Finally, you should think about the ergonomics of your wearable device. The Science Buddies activity only shows you how to sew the circuit onto a rectangular piece of fabric (Figure 1). Can you attach your device to a piece of clothing that is comfortable and unobtrusive enough for a person to wear under normal circumstances?

Black and white wires connected on base patch.
Figure 1. Electronic components sewn to a piece of fabric.
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Global Connections

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
This project explores topics key to Good Health and Well-Being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.


If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Career Profile
Just as a potter forms clay, or a steel worker molds molten steel, electrical and electronics engineers gather and shape electricity and use it to make products that transmit power or transmit information. Electrical and electronics engineers may specialize in one of the millions of products that make or use electricity, like cell phones, electric motors, microwaves, medical instruments, airline navigation system, or handheld games. Read more

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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Finio, Ben. "Design a Wearable Air Quality Index Monitor." Science Buddies, 14 Dec. 2022, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Elec_p095/electricity-electronics/wearable-air-quality-sensor. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

APA Style

Finio, B. (2022, December 14). Design a Wearable Air Quality Index Monitor. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Elec_p095/electricity-electronics/wearable-air-quality-sensor

Last edit date: 2022-12-14
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