I suffer from respiratory illness related to air pollution.
When I was in Bangalore, India for a few years, the pollution made my life miserable. The official pollution monitoring stations were few (4 in Bangalore), and they rarely worked.￼
When I was in 5th grade, I created my first (rudimentary) air pollution monitor, for a science fair. My monitor used gas sensors for VOC, CO and Methane. Although the readings were not calibrated and thus unreliable, I learned how to use an Arduino and simple programming to measure voltage and hence the level of these toxic gases in the air.
In April 2013, I came across the work of Tim Dye at Sonoma Tech. The folks at Sonoma Tech run the technology for all the important air monitoring stations in the US. I got a tour of their offices with all the high-end measurement equipment (like the $15,000 SHARP 5030). Tim showed his work on calibrating low cost sensors, which was what I was also trying to do.
I continued to experiment and in 7th grade I built my first dust particle sensing monitor, which, using a light emitter and detector the sensor, could count the number of dust particles. I exhibited my monitor at the Green Kids Conference in Mountain View, CA in June 2013.
Since then, I have made countless revisions to that model and new models as well; the progress of which can be seen on this blog. Ultimately, my goal is to have a relatively inexpensive, portable air pollution monitor, which would enable the public to make educated decisions based on the air pollution.