Cars vs People and the future

I had a conversations a few weeks ago about cars and what should we do as a society. Should we abandon them or should we find a better alternative? So I thought sharing my personal opinion and of course I would love to read some comments.

Although it is a matter of opinion, automobiles were invented in 1886 by Karl Benz. Immediately people loved the idea that they can move around easily and fast. Since then not much have changed, cars still are burning fossil fuels to move but one thing has happened, the advertisement reinforced the way people feel about cars.

Every good advertiser knows that if he/she wants to make a successful advertisement he/she has to focus on the feeling of the audience to make a successful sell. Today cars offer self-esteem and status to the people and it is wide acceptable that a person with a car, especially a fast and expensive car, worth more than a person who rides a bike. Let’s pay attention on a car ad the next time we watch TV. They present the driver as the most powerful person in the world with success in love life and in businesses. Of course there isn’t only one ad with the same message, it seems that all the companies and all the models inject the same message and all of them are bombarding the subcontinent of a person over and over. For a long time they have washed our minds.

It is so hard to compete with that, it is hard to raise awareness that most cars are bad for the environment and for our health. It is hard to make people think twice that the smoke exiting from a car is a bad by-product of the vehicle. Regulation and concern is needed.

The reason I am writing this article is because in my conversation with the people who already know how bad cars are for the society and want to ban them completely, it made me think that this is practically impossible. Although they are right, I believe that this is utopian and unaffectable. The advertisement has done a significant damage in the society and it will be almost impossible to undo the mind-shaping people have suffered over the years. The car makers will never stop promoting the cars as necessity.

The best alternative in my opinion is to move to green energy (solar-wind) sources and invest on good quality electric vehicles that they will last a long time on the roads.

I don’t own a car but I would like to make a comment about how people interact with cars. For example parents are very protective with their kids, so most of them won’t ride their kids to school on a cold rainy day but they will drive them in a car without thinking twice if they should or not. Of course they could take the bus, but let’s be real here, people have learnt in convenience and the majority of them will choose to drive to school over taking the bus even if it was an electric bus.

Conclusion

We have to move forward and adopt as soon as possible greener energy and transportation. Governments and companies need to understand that we don’t live only for today and future generations have the right to live on a sustainable environment.

 

Psych Study: When You’re Bummed, You’re More Likely to Buy

https://www.realmenrealstyle.com/car-affects-image/

https://www.econjobrumors.com/topic/luxury-cars-are-for-those-with-low-self-esteem

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2017 Year in Review

2017 has come to its end. Here are the Top 5 articles on See The Air Blog for this year. I want to thank all of my readers for the loyalty that they have given me. Many of you are following me on Twitter and I would like to invite new readers to follow me as well on Twitter because I comment and discuss a lot of topics there too.

The Countdown

5. On the fifth position we can see articles about the DIY Sensors like the OK Lab Stuttgart – PM DIY Monitor and the OurAirQuality DIY PM Monitor which had a lot of visits and people were very interested on them because they offer affordable air quality monitoring plus they fill a market gap for outdoor AQ monitoring for the consumers.

4. On the fourth position is my book See The Air Book. I am very exited for being in this place. People are appreciating the effort I have done and I am very grateful to all of you. Some have offered to translate the book in Chinese and Arabic among others and many have asked me for a Spanish version which it is coming.

3. On the third position we can find the uHoo Review. uHoo is one of the devices with an abundant quantity of sensors for air quality monitoring. People are very interested to know how the device works and the sensors it uses.

2. On the second position we can see a review again and this time about the AirVisual Review. The AirVisual review is for much longer time on my blog so it is normal the position it possesses. Of course it is a great device with one of the best PM sensor out there for the consumers.

1. On the first position for the 2017 ranking we can see the Device Companions. With over 22,000 visits and still counting it has been the number one reason people are visiting my blog from Google and other search engines.

 

Creativity against Air Pollution

Throughout time researchers have been trying to monitor air pollution and create urban pollution maps as precise as possible. This isn’t an easy task for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a lot of sensors are needed to be spread all around the city and then the researchers have to decide if the sensors will be stationary or will be mobile. Some clever and interesting projects to combat the air pollution with mobile Air Quality Monitors (AQMs) are.

The Pigeon Air Patrol

pigeon air patrol

A creative way for mobile Air Quality Monitors to be spread around the city. The pigeons wear a small device with O3, VOC and NO2 sensors. While they are flying around the city or sitting on a traffic light to rest, the sensors are constantly logging air quality data. The data will be later analysed by the researchers when the pigeons return to the base. This air monitoring campaign run for 3 days only and the pigeons are now back to their normal life.

More info at: http://www.pigeonairpatrol.com

 

The Taxi Air Quality Monitors

taxi air monitoring

This innovate idea for monitoring urban air quality was made by James Puderer. The idea is to place Air Quality Monitors on top and inside the Taxis/Cabs sign and allow them to do their normal and daily trips around the city while they are logging air quality data. Basically it is an Android Things based data logger with a host of environmental sensors, GPS, and battery. In this project he uses temperature, humidity, pressure, and air-borne particulate PM10 – PM2.5 sensors.

More info at: https://www.hackster.io/james-puderer/distributed-air-quality-monitoring-using-taxis-69647e

5th Graders Monitor Their Air Quality

kids school pollution.jpg

We all know how busy school roads can be, especially during peak hours when parents leave and pick up their kids from schools. Definitely the air quality is very bad during that time. Some universities, colleges and organizations have decided to track the air pollution from a different perspective by giving special backpack to some of the students, backpacks with a GPS and air quality sensors. Students are responsable to carry the backpack AQM with them and monitor the air quality. Later the experts will analyze the data that the students had logged on their backpack AQM.

https://www2.le.ac.uk/colleges/scieng/research/airquality/monitoring

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_1-2-2012-11-4-5

https://kithub.cc/2017/03/train-kids-monitor-air-quality/

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/PublicHealth/About/news/ResearchNews/Pages/Fort-Collins-kids-test-air-pollution-for-CSU-researchers.aspx

Zooming out – NO2 Pollution

It hasn’t been a long time since one of the AQ monitors that I have, the uHoo, activated the NO2 sensor and helped me realize that the air quality isn’t so good regarding the levels of Nitrogen Oxide inside my house. I had to do some research and find out if the sensor was right and where this NO2 comes from.

Mainly, NO2 is produced by road traffic and energy production like power plants, with that in mind I began investigating. It wasn’t an easy possess, I had to consider many factors.

Firstly, I thought the source of this particular pollutant NO2 was the neighbors’ cars as early in the morning they will all go to work and some of them they will turn the engines on and they will wait till the engines are warmed up enough to set off. The buildings in my neighborhood create a U and cars are parked inside that U where the NO2 could be trapped temporally until it enters inside the houses, through the windows or escapes. Partly, I was right some spikes of NO2 were registered by the sensor at this time of the day. Source #1 was found but unfortunately the NO2 wasn’t high only at that time of the day, so I had to search further.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 16.29.45
Buildings forming a U

Next, I analyzed the topography of my area. I had to find all the possible sources because I wanted to understand it as good as possible. A highway is very close to my neighborhood, about 650m but we are separated by a natural hill. I am not able to hear any road noise but I guess some pollution finds its way here depending the weather and wind conditions. Source #2

 

Screen Shot street no2
Highway A7

Then I had to see the greatest picture and with some further examination I was able to find all the factories / power plants in my region. There are quite many as you can see on the map below. My city Almeria doesn’t have as many factories as Sevilla for example but here is produced a enormous quantity of vegetables and fruit as a result the transportation is quite active. Source #3

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.04.16
Industries across Andalusia

Finally, the winds can bring a great amount of NO2 from as far as 300km away. As you can see from the animated GIF below, in Gibraltar were many boats enter into the Mediterranean sea a huge concentration of NO2 is created there. Source #4

BSC-ES_FORECAST_NOx_ANIM

no2 graph

Conclusion

By starting super locally inside my bedroom I was able to zoom out and see the whole picture of the air pollution and how it expands. It is amazing how the pollution can travel long distances and reach our lungs. This is the reason we have to raise awareness globally. Regarding the sensor, although the NO2 values that the sensor took weren’t very precise, due to the lack of calibration, the device was able to detect the fluctuations of the pollutant and alert me. This is a domestic or an office device and I think the results are expected because you can’t compare it with a laboratory instrument that cost thousands of dollars. The importance here is the value that the device will bring to the user, and it is substantial.

17 Air Quality Apps

Not everybody can afford an AQ Monitor or simply not everybody wants to spend money on a AQ Monitor. That’s fine because here are 17 Free/Paid apps for you to check the outdoor air quality in your area. Some of them can notify you when the Air Quality is poor and guide you on breathing cleaner air. Unfortunately some apps don’t support some regions, this is because some developers face difficulties to obtain data from local authorities. (The public air quality stations in my region suck!)

CALIOPE (Free) ♥♥♥

caliope

Caliope is an air quality forecast system for Spain, developed at Earth Sciences Department of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – National Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS). The app supports all Spanish regions and the website version supports most European countries. Available data O3, NO2, SO2, PM10 and PM2.5. Maps and Pollutants. The website is available in English and Spanish.

EPA AIRNow (Free) ♥

EPA

The EPA AIRNow was designed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Although the agency has access to all the US AQ stations and a huge amount of data, the app is plain and with a very poor design. There is nothing special about this app. Even the icons are pixelated. They should be ashamed, the app looks like an internet page from 1999.

AirVisual (Free) ♥♥♥♥♥

airvisual

AirVisual provides a free app for their device Node/Pro but it also works without it.  You can have access on a huge amount of outdoor AQ Stations around the globe. With a history browsing for all the pollutants, maps, ranking and news. The data are from public stations but also from their devices around the globe.

Wunderground (ads) ♥♥♥♥

Wunderground

Wunderground is basically an advance weather forecast app but they also provide air pollution data if you are lucky enough, which means depending the weather station they use to get the data for your area. If the weather station in your area has air quality sensors then they will provide you with the data.

Plume (Free) ♥♥♥♥

plume

Plume Labs has design this app to help people avoid air pollution. Their app offers an air pollution forecast. It is a simple but a complete app. You will see an Air Index at the home screen, weather conditions and the activities that they recommend you to do depending the air quality at that time. They use public AQ stations but they will also combine the data from their devices in the near future. It supports notifications.

CleanSpace (Free) ♥♥♥

cleanspace

CleanSpace focuses on Carbon Monoxide air pollution. On the home screen you can see the “current” air pollution from your device but if you don’t have a device you can also browser their air pollution map. They also provide some weather data from the local weather station. A bit limited on the pollutants.

Air Quality (Free) ♥♥♥♥

Air Quality

The app exist on the app store with 2 different icons but the same name, by the same developer and the same interface. It is a very nice app with plenty of data. The app has some nice animations and a clean design.

Airpocalypse (Free) ♥♥

Airpocalypse

This app is for the Chinese citizens because only supports Chinese cities. Super Clean design and some funny icons and quotes.

BreezoMeter (Free) ♥♥♥

BreezoMeter

BreezoMeter will help you get to the point of the air quality immediately. They support a map but the elephant will let you know if your outdoor air quality is safe and it will give you some advice. It will also tell you which is the dominant pollutant in your area.

Netatmo (Free) ♥♥

Netatmo

Netatmo is mainly a weather forecast app but it also provides some simple air quality data. Nothing fancy regarding the air data.

Air Bubbles (Free) ♥♥

AirBubbles

The Air Bubbles app indicates the air quality with colour-coded bubbles. Not many info available.

Air Matters (ads) ♥♥♥♥♥

air matters

Air Matters provides air pollution data, weather data and allergy data. If you suffer from allergies from a specific tree or plant like mugwort or olive trees etc, it will provide you with all the useful data. History browsing is also available and maps. Very clean and good design.

Awair (Free) ♥♥

awair

Awair has a small and basic tab with the outdoor air quality and weather conditions which allows you to compare them with the indoor air quality in case you  have their device.

Air Checker (ads) ♥

Air Checker

Air Checker is very simple, you just type your city and it tells you the air quality plus the pollutants. I compared the data with others and they didn’t correlate at all. So I am not very sure about the accuracy.

Aerium (Paid) ♥♥♥

aerium

Aerium is a weather forecast app but if you upgrade the free app it will also give you air quality info.

Kaiterra (Free) ♥♥♥

Kaiterra

Kaiterra is a free app for the Laser Egg 2 but it also provides outdoor air quality data. Simple design with an AQI and a histogram for the air pollutants.

Foobot (Free) ♥

 

foobot

Foobot has a basic tab with the outdoor air quality index for the outdoor location of the indoor device.

Air Quality Monitors – Comparison 2017 Q4

Holidays are coming and people are searching for gifts or for ways to protect themselves from air pollution. A great way to start 2018 is by seeing the air around you. Once more new companies offer more choices to the costumers and the old ones offer mature products through solid updates. On this update I have removed the Design row and I have added the Application Programming Interface API row, for those who want to know if the companies support this feature. Click on the image and download the PDF document.

comparison air 2017 Q4

 

  • Prices may vary during time.
  • Some Companies don’t specify on their data sheet if their devices are capable to measure PM2.5 or PM10 and they just mention the word dust.
  • Some other companies say: Our product goes beyond CO₂ by analyzing substances that directly affect your well-being by measuring VOCs. They aren’t clear if their devices have CO₂ sensor.
  • Some of the devices are AQI Monitors and Air Purifiers Combo. On this list you can only read the features as an AQI monitor.