Thanks to a development in sensor technology, there is a new way to detect high levels of nitrogen dioxide and take control of your health! As stated in new research by Australian and Chinese scientists, individuals would use cheap personalized sensors to detect unhealthy levels of pollution.
Nitrogen dioxide is a poisonous gas that is partly responsible for the hazardous fog that skulks above several of the world’s cities, contributing to deadly respiratory complications, as well as other health issues. As stated by the Department of Environment in Australia, approximately 80% of nitrogen dioxide in cities emanates from vehicle exhaust fumes, in addition to emissions from burnt fossil fuel from petrol refineries and coal-fired power stations.
Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, an Australian professor and scientist at the Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors at RMIT, stated that he contributed to the discovery of a new use for tin disulphide which could be utilized as a sensor to detect the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air.
Kalantar-zadeh was motivated to find a way to detect nitrogen dioxide when his pregnant wife was confirmed to have preeclampsia, a threatening ailment for mother and child linked to blood pressure. Kalantar-zadeh found out that a number of scientists considered the gas as a contributor to developing the condition.
While large scale agricultural fires still burn in Indonesia, pollution has reached high-risk levels across south-east Asia. Reportedly, a minimum of 10 people have died from the fog-associated illnesses, and many others have been left unwell with respiratory problems.
According to Kalantar-zadeh, the West Gate Freeway, which is wife frequented, has high levels of nitrogen dioxide due to regular hour-long traffic jams and the use of the freeway by a number of diesel-fuelled trucks. This means that his wife was often exposed to the potentially lethal gas.
His efforts to come up with a new way to detect nitrogen dioxide were inadequate until tin disulphide was brought to his attention by his colleague from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Tin disulphide is generally used in varnishes. However, “the material has a good energy that attracts nitrogen dioxide gas molecules selectively onto the surface.”
As far as he knows, no one else has used tin disulphide for this purpose before. He has hopes that the material will soon be built into our smartphones as a sensor, allowing individuals to detect the gas in the atmosphere around them.
How does it work? The sensor is made up of tin disulphide a few atoms thick and absorbs nitrogen dioxide molecules, which may then be calculated.
Kalantar-zadeh adds that the material is very cheap, and so making the sensor comes at a very low cost of less than one Australian dollar.
This research has been made public in the hope that tin disulphide sensors will be taken into production and that people can benefit from its uses today.