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Bringing Air Quality Monitoring to a Playground Near You

October 31, 2014

Bringing air quality monitoring to a playground near you.

More than two million people die each year from the effects of air pollution. Around the globe, levels of ozone and particle pollution affect billions of people each day. Prolonged exposure of pollutants, such as low-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, nitrous oxide, and a host of other volatile organic compounds can be linked to coughing, sneezing and serious respiratory diseases. Many nations and municipalities regularly monitor these pollutants to understand the health of the environment and leading geographies and be able to issue warnings around pollutant levels. Regulatory methods, while accurate and detailed, are often extrapolated over a sizable geographic region and are not able to portray environmental health at a local level.

Introducing Elm

With the help of a novel network from PerkinElmer, everyone can breathe easier. Elm™ is a multisensor monitoring system with the most advanced sensors in the world. The Elm device houses six discrete sensors. The primary sensors work as gas and particle detectors, a widely used and proven technique providing a simple way to measure the concentration of a particular pollutant. Elm sensors carry unique characteristics such as: real-time data, low electricity consumption, precise sensing capabilities and low maintenance. PerkinElmer now operates sensors in multiple countries data readings every 20 seconds reported through an interactive global map that is accessible by desktop, laptop, or mobile device (elm.perkinelmer.com) for people to understand the quality of the air they breathe.

"As the world continues to face increasing airborne pollutants, we believe Elm's data service approach will be a valuable tool."

- Andrea Jackson, Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Environmental Health, PerkinElmer

"Our new Elm solution leverages PerkinElmer's detection capabilities and expertise in environmental monitoring in a way that we expect will transform how air quality is understood and explained," Jon DiVincenzo, President, Environmental Health, PerkinElmer, says. "Using an approach never before possible, the Elm network empowers us to connect our understanding about the quality of our environment with its impact on our health – helping cities make smarter, more informed decisions."

How Elm Works

The Elm unit measures roughly 10" x 7" x 3", a convenient size for and is small enough to mount just about anywhere. As a plug and-play device, the Elm can run on its own or be part of a web of sensor devices that identify, alert, and log air quality events that may pose risks to human health and the environment on the local and even the micro-local level. While the Elm unit also monitors noise, temperature, and relative humidity, it can be modified to track additional pollutants, including odors, ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane, to name just a few. The node is installed using local Wi-Fi or cellular networks and requires a simple power source. Once up and running, the Elm network sends its data automatically to cloudbased servers via the Internet. PerkinElmer processes that information continuously and makes it available in a user-friendly format featuring a popular mapping service.


Growing Interest in a Game Changing Technology

PerkinElmer is currently offering its Elm network services to the commercial and municipal sectors interested in monitoring environmental health and air quality on the local level. Since the information Elm collects is publicly available, residents in areas with the sensors, such as Boston, MA, where an unofficial trial is underway, are also potential customers. The company sees the new service as the world's first platform that links environmental monitoring to real-time actions cities and companies can take to improve public health, optimize urban planning, and raise public awareness of the environment in local communities around the globe. Individuals can benefit from the real-time features of the Elm network by leveraging its information to make better wellness choices about where to live, when and where to schedule outdoors' activities, and becoming more informed citizens about pollution trends and helping their communities make more informed decisions about future development, transportation, and zoning. "This, really, to me is about environmental data and how to make it relevant to life," Andrea Jackson, PerkinElmer's vice president of marketing strategy, says in an recent interview with Fast Company's Co. Exist daily, which focuses on the latest world changing ideas and innovations. "If you want to understand what's happening with your air, you generally have to understand the technical literature or read the EPA's website," Jackson says. "We think there's a much more intuitive way to get people to understand what's going on. You can imagine more applications near schools, or bike paths, or industrial areas where people would need to understand what their air quality was like."

Seeing is Believing

PerkinElmer has more than 200 Elm monitors gathering information in metropolitan areas near schools, parks, major roads, and neighborhoods around the world. To learn more about how the Elm sensor system is helping to improve the relevancy and availability of air quality information in 10 countries, visit Elm's global map, or email the company at elm@perkinelmer.com. Additional information on air quality is also available at the U.S. Environmental Agency's Air Quality Index site.

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