Small, Smart, Fast, and Cheap: Novel Monitoring Devices for HAP Studies

To facilitate research and evaluation of HAP in village settings, we develop battery-operated, microchip-based devices to directly measure parameters of interest rather than rely on expensive commercial monitors, techniques requiring laboratory back-up, or imprecise and intrusive social-science-based approaches, such as questionnaires and observation.  In all cases, in addition to developing the technology itself, we develop the software for handling the sometimes large datasets that result.   Most of these devices have been developed in collaboration with colleagues, particularly Dr. Tracy Allen of EME Systems.  

UCB - Particle and Temperature Sensor (UCB-PATS)

Around 2000, our research group developed an inexpensive particle monitor (UCB-PATs) based on a widely sold smoke alarm by First Alert.  See the short history of its development. Below are the original papers describing the theory, lab, and field validations: 

Since 2008, these monitors have been sold by Berkeley Air Monitoring Group and are widely used by groups around the world for HAP studies.  See examples of publications from studies done in more than a dozen countries.

In 2014, an improved model is expected to become available, the UCB-PATS+.  Watch this website and that of Berkeley Air Monitoring Group for an announcement.

We have also developed and tested a bench version of the BAIRS monitor, which relies on a more sophisticated, but still consumer-based, sensor.

A doctoral student in our group, David Holstius, has also developed and tested a related device, the PANDA, which is based on a different sensor.

 

Stove-Use Monitoring System (SUMS)

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We innovated approaches to directly measure the use of stoves by deploying data-logging temperature sensors, which enable much longer, unobtrusive, and accurate monitoring of cooking behavior and “stacking” – use of more than one stove for cooking in a kitchen.  Initially, most of our studies have relied on commercial “i-buttons” from the food industry to do the sensing and our contribution has been in placement, data handling, and interpretation.  We are also field-testing custom-built sensors; however, including a wireless version from which data can be retrieved without entering the house itself.

Here are our papers describing the idea and initial applications.

Berkeley Air Monitoring Group now sells sets of SUMs and associated software for others to use.

Wireless SUMS

With funding through an innovation prize from Vodafone Americas Foundation,  we have developed a wireless version of the SUMS, which allows data on stove use to be downloaded unobtrusively without entering the household.  It has been field tested in Mexico and India and reports are forthcoming.
 

Time-activity Monitors (TAMs)

We have developed a simple inexpensive ultrasound-based system for monitoring the amount of time spent by different household members in specific household locations, for example the kitchen.  See

 

Air Exchange Rate Monitors (ARMs)

Our group pioneered the use of carbon monoxide as a tracer gas to measure air exchange rates in village households in the 1980s (Smith, 1987) as an indicator of ventilation.  We have now developed a more formal system relying on carbon dioxide as a tracer that allows repetitive measurements under the same conditions in one or many households over time.   It is undergoing field testing in Nepal inn 2014.  Watch the website for published results.