Scientists have developed a personal credit card-sized system that traps harmful and dangerous compounds in the air.
Many everyday products, from deodorants to pesticides and paints, release molecules into the air that can be harmful or hazardous to human health. If you inhale enough of them, you can potentially get serious health problems.
But this impact is difficult to assess because modern air analyzers are limited in the number of compounds they can recognize, and they only work over a certain area.
The authors of the new work have created a personal air sampling system that detects a huge range of compounds harmful and hazardous to health.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a major source of air pollution. Compounds are formed from household products, fuels such as gasoline, and industrial processes. Depending on the type of VOCs and their amount in the air, a person may experience problems ranging from irritation of the nose to a neoplasm.
The new personal air sampling system is nano-pore silica, which sits in a case about the size and width of a credit card so you can attach it to your clothes and carry it with you wherever you go.
Silica, or OSU-6, binds VOCs in its tiny pores using weak electrical attraction. Since these bonds are of a physical rather than chemical nature, the material can bind to a wide range of compounds.
The Airotect system development team is currently experimenting with other configurations for storing silica, such as placing it in a pen or badge.