Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Asthma Attack: Vest-based Sensors Monitor Environmental Exposure To Help Understand Causes

Date:
January 25, 2008
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
Researchers have developed a sensor system that continuously monitors the air around persons prone to asthma attacks. Worn in the pockets of a vest, the new system could help researchers understand the causes of asthma attacks.

A sensor system that fits in the pocket of a vest continuously monitors the air around persons prone to asthma attacks. Researchers hope the system helps them better understand the causes of asthma.
Credit: Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a sensor system that continuously monitors the air around persons prone to asthma attacks. Worn in the pockets of a vest, the new system could help researchers understand the causes of asthma attacks.

"We are investigating whether we can go back after an asthma attack and see what was going on environmentally when the attack started," said Charlene Bayer, a GTRI principal research scientist.

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and initial funding from the GTRI Independent Research and Development (IRAD) program.

Although no one fully understands why certain people get asthma, doctors know that once a person has it, his/her lungs can overreact to environmental stimuli causing chest tightness or breathlessness, known as an asthma attack.

The new sensor system measures airborne exposure to formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, temperature, relative humidity and total volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted as gases from products such as paints, cleaning supplies, pesticide formulations, building materials and furnishings, office equipment and craft materials.

In addition to detecting the seven environmental stimuli mentioned above, a special mesh filter collects particles. A pump pulls air through the filter so that the quantity of particles can be measured at the end of the sampling period. The composition of the collected particulate can also be analyzed in the laboratory.

The battery-powered system fits into the pocket of a vest and contains commercially available sensors that were integrated into a single system by Mark Jones, chief executive officer of Keehi Technologies.

"The device weighs less than one pound including batteries and it takes a measurement of air every two minutes, stores the data in on-board memory and then sleeps to conserve battery power," said Jones.

Bayer and GTRI Research Scientist Robert Hendry calibrated and tested the sensors in a large room-sized chamber that simulates real-world environmental conditions inside buildings. Coupled with sensitive mass spectrometers, the chamber allows the changing indoor air chemistry to be studied in detail.

The sensor system is designed to be comfortably worn in the pockets of a vest throughout the day and kept at the bedside while sleeping at night. Another vest pocket contains an electronic peak flow meter to periodically measure pulmonary function. When experiencing an asthma attack, the vest wearer notes what time it occurred and Bayer can examine the levels of the chemical compounds at that time.

Six adult volunteers have tested the vest for comfort and the effectiveness of the sensor system under actual use conditions. And that has already brought benefits for one volunteer, whose vest detected higher volatile organic exposures in his home than anywhere else. That led researchers to discover a pollutant pathway from the volunteer's basement garage into the living areas that was allowing automobile exhaust and gasoline fumes to invade the house.

With future funding, Bayer hopes to develop a smaller and more sensitive sensor system, test the current vest in population studies of asthmatic children and develop software to process the population studies data as it is collected.

"With this system we can determine what children are exposed to at home, at school and outside where they play," said Bayer. "Chances are there are some overreaching compounds that seem to trigger asthma attacks in more children."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Asthma Attack: Vest-based Sensors Monitor Environmental Exposure To Help Understand Causes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080122154626.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2008, January 25). Asthma Attack: Vest-based Sensors Monitor Environmental Exposure To Help Understand Causes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080122154626.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Asthma Attack: Vest-based Sensors Monitor Environmental Exposure To Help Understand Causes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080122154626.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins