A new sensor for the assessment of personal exposure to volatile organic compounds

Cheng Chen, Katherine Driggs Campbell, Indira Negi, Rodrigo A. Iglesias, Patrick Owens, Nongjian Tao, Francis Tsow, Erica Forzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


To improve our understanding of indoor and outdoor personal exposures to common environmental toxicants released into the environment, new technologies that can monitor and quantify the toxicants anytime anywhere are needed. This paper presents a wearable sensor to provide such capabilities. The sensor can communicate with a common smart phone and provides accurate measurement of volatile organic compound concentration at a personal level in real-time, providing environmental toxicants data every three minutes. The sensor has high specificity and sensitivity to aromatic, alkyl, and chlorinated hydrocarbons with a resolution as low as 4 parts-per-billion (ppb), with a detection range of 4 ppb-1000 ppm (parts-per-million). The sensor's performance was validated using Gas Chromatography and Selected Ion Flow Tube - Mass Spectrometry reference methods in a variety of environments and activities with overall accuracy higher than 81% (r 2 > 0.9). Field tests examined personal exposure in various scenarios including: indoor and outdoor environments, traffic exposure in different cities which vary from 0 to 50 ppmC (part-per-million carbon from hydrocarbons), and pollutants near the 2010 Deepwater Horizon's oil spill. These field tests not only validated the performance but also demonstrated unprecedented high temporal and spatial toxicant information provided by the new technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-687
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Air monitoring
  • Environmental health
  • Indoor air quality
  • Personal exposure assessment
  • Real-time sensor
  • Wireless and wearable integrated sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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