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Global air pollution threat requires IoT-based Air quality monitoring solutions

Atmospheric conditions continue to deteriorate each year due to the growth of civilization and increasing unclean emissions from industries and automobiles. Although air is an indispensable resource for life, many people are indifferent to the severity of air pollution or have only recently recognized the problem.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90 percent of the population now breathes polluted air, and air pollution is the cause of death for 7 million people every year. Atmospheric pollution is a growing problem, particularly in urban areas and in less developed countries.  With half the world has no access to clean fuels or technologies (e.g. stoves, lamps), the very air we breathe is growing dangerously polluted.


The burning of gas, coal and oil results in three times more deaths than traffic accidents worldwide. In 2020, a study by Green Peace calculated the economic cost of air pollution: $2.9 trillion, which was equivalent to 3.3% of world GDP at the time.


Among various types of pollutants such as water, soil, thermal, and noise, air pollution is the most dangerous and severe, causing climate change and life-threatening diseases. In the case of air pollution, the number of deaths in India from ambient air pollution was 1.09 million, while deaths from household air pollution from solid fuels were 0.97 million. In the case of water pollution, 0.5 million deaths were caused by unsafe water source, while unsafe sanitation caused 0.32 million deaths.


According to the World Health Organization, one out of every nine deaths can be attributed to diseases caused by air pollution. Organic pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and volatile compounds, are the main cause of this, and they are mostly emitted by vehicle exhausts and industry. More than 8 million people around the world die each year as a result of breathing polluted air that contains particles from fossil fuels, a new study has found.


Nowadays, cities all over the globe are transforming into smart cities. Smart cities initiatives need to address environmental concerns such as air pollution to provide clean air. A scalable and cost-effective air monitoring system is imperative to monitor and control air pollution for smart city development. Air pollution has notable effects on the well-being of the population a whole, global atmosphere, and worldwide economy.


The health effects of pollution are very severe that causes stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease. Furthermore, air pollutants have a negative impact on humans and the earth’s ecosystem, as observed in recent global air pollution problems like ozone depletion. Therefore, air quality monitoring and management are main subjects of concern.


Indoor Air Quality

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air is 100 times more contaminated than outside air. Most modern populations spend 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors; therefore, indoor air has a greater direct impact on human health than outside air.


People spend up to 90% of their time indoors and in an air-conditioned environment which has a limited scope of fresh air circulation. Unlike outside air, indoor air tends to be continuously recycled, causing it to trap pollutants and allowing them to accumulate in these confined spaces.  Poor air quality in the workplace can affect the productivity of employees. Therefore it is important to know the quality of air breathing. This can help to avoid polluted air as much as possible and take measures to clean the polluted air


Moreover, in contrast to atmospheric pollution, indoor pollutants are about 1000 times more likely to be transmitted to the lungs, causing diseases such as sick building syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, and dizziness. Indoor air quality management is very important, as it can prevent exposure through proactive precautionary measures. Therefore, efficient and effective monitoring of indoor air is necessary to properly manage air quality.


There are many pollutants in the indoor air. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is probably the most commonly used indicator for measuring carbon dioxide produced by human breathing and carbon dioxide emitted by devices such as gas stoves and boilers. Other indicators are humidity and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), both of which are indicators of indoor air quality.
The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has brought IAQ Monitoring to center stage as it plays a crucial role in minimizing viral transmission in schools, offices, and restaurants. In addition to enacting the behavioral change of social distancing, building owners and operators need to leverage a range of tools and strategies to optimize building operational performance to give their tenants confidence in returning to the workplace safely. Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) can be as effective in reducing aerosol virus transmission as vaccinating 50-60% of the population, according to scientific research.

Air Quality Measurement standards

At a high level, air quality is commonly measured using the air quality index (AQI). The AQI is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measurement of air pollution for both outdoor and indoor spaces, running from a value of 0-500. AQI factors in the presence of five categories of pollutants: Ground-level ozone, Particulate matter, Carbon monoxide, Sulfur dioxide, and Nitrogen dioxide
Effective IAQ measurement reduces the health risks associated with poor indoor air, creating a safer and more harmonious environment for people to thrive.

Beyond AQI, the presence of indoor air quality (IAQ) pollutants should be of particular concern for businesses, enterprises, and other organizations inviting people in and out of their physical locations. According to the EPA, the concentration of certain pollutants is 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors, meaning people, products, and even equipment could be at risk.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) broadly refers to the environmental characteristics within buildings that may affect human health, comfort or work performance. These IAQ characteristics include concentrations of pollutants in indoor air, as well as temperature and humidity.

Air Quality Sensors

Air quality sensors are essential to measuring and studying pollutants that can harm public health and the environment. Technological improvements have led to smaller, more affordable sensors as well as satellite-based sensors with new capabilities.


While measuring and monitoring air quality can be complicated, modern smart building solutions include integrated environmental sensors that capture air quality data over time. These sensors monitor the level of pollutants, particulate matter, and harmful organic compounds in the air. They can also be configured to trigger notifications and alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded.
Smart building air quality monitors can measure and report AQI for central monitoring, including the ability to set thresholds in case a particular room, floor, or building’s air quality decreases to unacceptable levels. In this regard, AQI is a highly useful composite metric for evaluating air quality at regular intervals.


Low-cost sensors use a variety of methods to measure air quality, including lasers to estimate the number and size of particles passing through a chamber and meters to estimate the amount of a gas passing through the sensor. The sensors generally use algorithms to convert raw data into useful measurements. The algorithms may also adjust for temperature, humidity, and other conditions that affect sensor measurements. Higher-quality devices can have other features that improve results, such as controlling the temperature of the air in the sensors to ensure measurements are consistent over time.


Sensors can measure different aspects of air quality depending on how they are deployed. For example, stationary sensors measure pollution in one location, while mobile sensors, such as wearable sensors carried by an individual, reflect exposure at multiple locations.


Satellite-based sensors generally measure energy reflected or emitted from the earth and the atmosphere to identify pollutants between the satellite and the ground. Some sensors observe one location continuously, while others observe different parts of the earth over time.


Multiple sensors can be deployed in a network to track the formation, movement, and variability of pollutants and to improve the reliability of measurements. Combining data from multiple sensors can increase their usefulness, but it also increases the expertise needed to interpret the measurements, especially if data come from different types of sensors.


For example, laser dust sensor, model PM2007 from Wuhan Cubic Optoelectronics Co., can measure and monitor concentrations of aerosol. This sensor can detect and output real-time particle mass concentrations for PM 2.5 and PM 10, which are defined as the fraction of particles with aerodynamic diameters smaller than 2.5 and 10 μm, respectively.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are hydrocarbon-based products such as petroleum products and organic solvents that are easily vaporized in air due to high vapor pressure. Also, organic materials such as liquid fuels, paraffins, olefins, and aromatic compounds, which are commonly used in the living environment, are defined as VOCs. A VOC sensor module GSBT11-P110 from Ogam Technology  detects many types of VOCs, such as formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, xylene, and organic solvents.


Carbon monoxide is a toxic product of incomplete combustion of carbon compounds such as gas, petroleum, and coal. For example, CO sensor module GSET11-P110 from Ogam Technology can detect and monitor CO. This sensor is a semiconductor-based gas sensor that is less expensive and easier to operate than a nondispersive infrared sensor.


Although CO2 is produced both naturally and through human activities, it is not classified as an air pollutant. However, it is treated as a pollutant because the amount of oxygen required for breathing becomes insufficient at high concentrations of CO2 in an indoor space. One example is CO2 gas sensor module CM1103  that can detect and monitor CO2 concentrations. The sensor uses nondispersive infrared technology (NDIR) that have advantages of high precision, fast response, and factory calibration.


The comfort of the indoor environment is greatly influenced by temperature and humidity. Model DHT11 from OSEPP Electronics can measure temperature and humidity. The sensor guarantees high reliability and excellent long-term stability using a digital signal acquisition technique.


IoT based Air Quality Monitoring

A wireless sensor network (WSN) is a wireless network consisting of spatially distributed autonomous devices using sensors to monitor physical or environmental conditions. In recent years the emergence of small, low-cost, and low-power sensor technologies like microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors, onboard signal processing, and wireless communication all integrated on a single chip (system on a chip (SoC)) have evolved further into the Internet of Things (IoT).


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. These IoT networks are being used in real-time monitoring in various fields.


Researchers have developed outdoor air monitoring solutions combining the use of the Internet of Things with cloud technology to drive services in real-time and quickly. The proposed system is installed in certain areas with severe air pollution. Regularly monitor the level of each toxic pollutant. Raise public awareness through an Android application that determines the air quality index (AQI) of observed pollutants and displays the level of each pollutant observed and the air quality index for that particular location. Therefore, the general public can understand the air quality of the area by displaying the gas concentration in digital and graph formats.
Among the benefits offered by the IoT technology are:
  • Greater Coverage. IoT solutions allow you to measure quality across vast expanses, without additional staff-related cost or measurement overheads.
  • Reduced cost. IoT air quality and pollution sensors are cost-effective alternatives to fixed stations and can be part of any holistic environmental management solution.
  • Better identification of pollution hotspots and problem areas. With wide coverage, the system can identify anomalies or pollution outbreaks that may warrant further investigation.
  • Possibility to better shape policy and decision making. Data arm decisions and policy makers. City planners, population health, education leaders and transport managers can use air quality data to shape and develop policy and influence decision making.
  • Better outcomes. Poor air quality and pollution levels have been associated with various health conditions and life expectancy. Measuring air quality is the first part of the solution.
  • Greater transparency. Many agencies choose to publicly share air quality information with their residents and businesses. This promotes transparency and garners people’s support to support positive environmental change and help tackle the climate issue.

When the recommended practices for planning, deployment, and maintenance of these devices are followed, low-cost monitoring networks can be used effectively to fill the air quality monitoring gaps that exist in urban environments and paint a more complete picture of air quality, providing the data points that are desperately needed to protect human health in increasingly populated and polluted areas.

IoT-Based Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Platform

There are two main methods for assessing indoor air quality:

  • Real-time (continuous) measurements. Real-time monitors can be used for the detection of pollutant sources, providing information on the variation of pollutant levels throughout the day.
  • Integrated sampling with subsequent laboratory analysis. Integrated samples, normally taken during the 8-hour office working day, can provide information on the total level of exposure for a given pollutant.
Internet of Things (IoT) systems can monitor primary pollutants such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter in the indoor environment in real time. IoT systems provide pollution level information directly to smart devices in real time. An alarm is triggered when the air quality drops to a certain level.
Both are greatly facilitated by the installation of IoT sensors. Which explains why, in many places, the LoRaWAN standard has become the preferred infrastructure for IAQ monitoring

Air Quality Monitoring System Market

Global market for Air Quality Monitoring Systems estimated at US$3.9 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$6.2 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.9% over the analysis period 2020-2027. Indoor,  is projected to grow at a 6.7% CAGR to reach US$4.2 Billion by the end of the analysis period.


Air quality monitoring systems (AQMS) are equipment that has the ability to regulate wind speed, direction, and other weather parameters in terms of measuring the concentration of air pollutants such as SO2, NOx, CO, O3, and THC. The measures data has the ability to be monitored remotely and exported in various formats for the local users and authorities. It is then published after being converted into readable and scalable data that the layman can understand in the form of charts and figures.


Key players in the market focus on providing solutions used to measure specific pollutants, also known as “criteria air pollutants”, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and nitrous oxide present in the air. Among other things, these pollutants make the air we breathe a public health problem.


Rapid technological development such as introduction of IoT systems, WSN, cloud computing, gas sensing, and other technologies is another major factor boosting revenue growth of the global market. IoT and cloud computing-based air quality monitoring systems effectively measure aerosol concentration, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and temperature-humidity, and transmit the information to a web server through LTE in real-time.


The expanding variety of pollutants in the region is one of the primary factors driving market expansion. The number of regulations and regulatory agencies, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is also growing to support the market’s expansion. Increasing demand for clean indoor air from both commercial and residential areas plays a major role in the growth of the regional market in the region. As the underlying demand for indoor air quality solutions is expected to remain strong during the forecast period, the market in the region will continue to experience positive growth.


The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 are leading to new advancements in the standards and functionality of indoor air quality solutions equipment. Nest smoke detectors and CO alarms are among the most regularly used smart indoor air quality monitoring equipment for measuring five important aspects of air quality – dust, chemicals, CO2, relative humidity, and temperature. The worldwide indoor air quality solutions market is predicted to grow rapidly as a result of these technologically improved indoor air quality monitoring devices.


Market Segmentation

On the basis of product, the global air quality monitoring system market is divided into indoor and outdoor. The outdoor installations segment is expected to witness the largest market share during the advent of the forecast period owing to increased integration of activities in association with smart cities coupled with rising government mandates for improving air quality in their boroughs to name a few.

Based on pollutant type, the global air quality monitoring system market is classified into chemical and physical. The segment pertaining to chemicals is expected to occupy the largest market share during the advent of the forecast period owing to rising vehicular emissions such as carbon monoxide coupled with an increasing number of capnography tests for anesthesia and intensive medical services to name a few.


On the basis of components, the global air quality monitoring system market is fragmented into hardware, software, and services. The hardware category is expected to witness the largest market share during the advent of the forecast period owing to the rising number of system integrators in the sector coupled with the integration of IoT-based services in the latter to name a few.


On the basis of end-user, the global is categorized into residential, commercial, and industrial. The segment pertaining to industrial is expected to witness the largest market share during the advent of the forecast period owing to increasing adoption of air quality monitoring systems from various sectors coupled with increasing demand for natural gas and petroleum sources to name a few.


Regional Dominance:

North America is expected to witness the largest market share during the advent of the forecast period owing to rising levels of acidic rains in the region coupled with an increasing amount of government-based initiatives for improving air quality to name a few. Additionally, the presence of well-established distribution channels and rising disposable income among consumers leading to an increased volume of indoor air quality monitoring systems will lead to an increased footprint for the air quality monitoring system market during the advent of the forecast period.


Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the fastest growing CAGR during the advent of the forecast period owing to the increasing prevalence of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in the region coupled with favorable government policies to name a few.


The Air Quality Monitoring Systems market in the U.S. is estimated at US$1.5 Billion in the year 2020. The country currently accounts for a 38.31% share in the global market. China, the world’s second largest economy, is forecast to reach an estimated market size of US$541.6 Million in the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 8.6% through 2027.


Some of the Industry’s Major Market Players are 3M Manufacturing, Emerson Electric Co., General Electric Company, HORIBA Ltd., Merck, Siemens AG, Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc., PerkinElmer Inc., Agilent Technologies Inc., Spectris plc., Honeywell International Inc., TSI Incorporated, Tisch Environmental



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