American Thoracic Society International Conference

American Thoracic Society International Conference

Source:

Xie S, et al. A17 – Novel Causes of Environmental Asthma. Presented at: American Thoracic Society Virtual; Aug. 5-10, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of publication.
August 11, 2020
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Portable pollution sensors feasible for measuring personal exposure

Source:

Xie S, et al. A17 – Novel Causes of Environmental Asthma. Presented at: American Thoracic Society Virtual; Aug. 5-10, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Healio could not confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of publication.
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In a small study, low-cost, portable air pollution sensors captured personalized air-quality information and may potentially provide an alternative to traditional methods of pollution exposure measurement for patients with asthma.

“Measuring exposure to [fine particulate matter] is especially important for those with asthma because it is known to increase the risk of exacerbations. While exposure to [fine particulate matter] has traditionally been estimated using measurements taken at Environmental Protection Agency stations and other station monitoring sites, portable pollution sensors offer an alternative in which individuals can carry these devices around and measure exposure directly, which has the potential to improve personalized monitoring,” Sherrie Xie, BS, with the department of biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics at the University of Pennsylvania, said during a prerecorded presentation of an e-poster at the American Thoracic Society Virtual meeting.

Air Pollution from smoke stacks
Source: Adobe Stock.

The researchers assessed the feasibility of low-cost pollution sensors in patients with asthma and also patients’ willingness to use a personal pollution sensor and their privacy preferences. The study included 15 patients (mean age, 46 years; 87% women) with physician-diagnosed asthma treated with inhaled steroids who lived in the greater Philadelphia region. Student research assistants used the HabitatMap AirBeam portable air monitoring device, which was paired via Bluetooth to smartphones, to assess fine particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements at 1-second intervals on walks of 1 to 3 hours in Philadelphia neighborhoods from May to August 2018. The researchers compiled 117,000 unique measurements taken on 34 walks. These data were averaged at 10-second intervals and compared with time-matched measurements taken at three local EPA stations, according to Xie. In the sensor field trials, the portable sensors could resolve fine-scale fluctuations in PM2.5 over time and space compared with EPA measurements, the researchers reported.

During semi-structured interviews, all 15 participants responded that they would be willing to use a personal pollution sensor, although participants expressed a desire for a device that is small and light. When asked about privacy, 87% of patients responded that they would be willing to share sensor data with the public, especially if used as an alert for others to avoid areas with high pollution that could trigger an asthma exacerbation.

During the study, the researchers observed usability limitations with the AirBeam sensors, such as Bluetooth connectivity issues, a larger size and shape, and the need to manually download pollution data and measurements following each use.

“Sensors can capture personalized air-quality information at higher spatiotemporal resolution than traditional methods,” Xie said. “Adults with asthma were generally interested in using sensors to monitor pollution exposure and improvements to sensors including decreased size and increased portability would facilitate their use in a general patient population, such as those with asthma.”

Reference:

Xie S, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020;201:A1033.