Cellphones Can Help Asthmatics Avoid Air Pollution

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say a network of sensors could help asthmatics avoid air pollution.

CitiSense, planned by the University of California, San Diego, is a wireless network in which hundreds or thousands of small environmental sensors are attached to the backpacks, purses and jackets of San Diegans going about daily life.

The sensors shuttle information via cellphones to central computers to be analyzed, “anonymized” and sent back out to individuals, public health agencies and San Diego at large.

The sensor-wearing people will have the option of also wearing biological monitors to collect basic health information — such as heart rate — making it possible for researchers to investigate the effect of particular environmental pollutants on human health.

“San Diego County has 3.1 million residents, 4,000 square miles and only five official Environmental Protection Agency air quality monitors. We know about the air quality in those exact spots but we know much less about the air quality in other places,” principal CitiSense investigator William Griswold said in a statement.

“Our goal is to give San Diegans up-to-the-minute environmental information about where they live, work and play — information that will empower anyone in the community to make healthier choices.”

The system will allow people to plot their outside exercise away from polluted air that might aggravate asthma, the researchers said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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