According to a report from the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately 3.8 million people globally are killed by indoor air pollution due to smoke from dirty cooking stoves and fuel. For people living in Third World countries, simply cooking a meal can be deadly, and the mortality rate from that sooty smoke is higher than those afflicted with HIV/AIDS (1.6-million) and malaria (627,000) combined.
To help reduce those numbers, Nairobi-based IoT startup Kaiote has designed an open source DIY indoor air pollution monitor that will alert those in their homes when the air quality diminishes.
“OpenHAP is an open-source device used to monitor exposure to pollutants within the indoor household space. It is also very useful for noninvasive monitoring of human habit and actions that may have contributions to pollution, without the need to ask direct questions that may offend or go against culture thus difficult to obtain answers to.”
The OpenHAP device is outfitted with a PM sensor air inlet that detects soot and other types of particulate matter floating through the air, while a thermal sensor array is used to measure real-time heat that correlates with stove temperatures and other pollutant production. An onboard ESP32-WROVER MCU processes that data and sends it via Bluetooth to an activity-monitoring wrist beacon that lets the user know the levels of pollutants inside the home.
Kaiote tested the OpenHAP device in Kenya with a family that uses a three-stone open fire stove (TSOF), and after 30 seconds of starting the fire, the technician installing the equipment could no longer see and likened the smoke to industrial flue gas. The OpenHAP functioned as planned, and after 48 hours, the technicians downloaded the data and found the readings were incredibly high, so much so that it blew over the detection threshold of the PM sensor.
The number of pollutants subjected to the family was equal to smoking eight cigarettes a day, and 8-times above WHO’s 24-hour exposure limit! After successful testing, Kaiote opted to release OpenHAP as an open source device, and they have a detailed walkthrough on how to build one on their project page.
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Author: Cabe Atwell