Air pollution is a burning issue facing our planet today. Rapid industrialization and urbanization has made the problem extremely difficult to contain. Cities around the world are witnessing rising levels of air contamination, with Beijing, Kanpur and New Delhi recording some of the worst figures in recent years.
Air pollution has dire implications on human health and well-being. It affects plant and animal life, and also disrupts the ecosystem. It changes our environment irreversibly, often leaving it beyond repair. This calls for an urgent need to curb air pollution.
There are various things we can do to eliminate the causes and minimize the effects of air pollution. There is a macro and a micro level to dealing with pollution. While the government and the private sector need to rethink policies for controlling air pollution on a broader scale, we as citizens can fight air pollution in our homes and offices by installing air quality monitors and air purification devices.
Air quality meters are new-age gadgets that detect pollutants present in the indoor air and measure their concentration on a real-time basis. They track and record the number of particulate matter (PM), total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) and formaldehyde. Particulate matter comprises of a family of extremely tiny air-borne particles with diameters of less than 10 micrometer. They are detrimental to health and can only be removed with the help of a special kind of air filter known as High Efficiency Particulate Arrestant (HEPA) filter. TVOCs and formaldehyde are released by household products like plywood furniture, paints, glues, cosmetics, deodorants and cleaning supplies. They have been linked with respiratory and cardiovascular complications in humans.
An air pollution meter identifies and quantifies solid, liquid and gaseous air contaminants. Some also provide information on temperature and humidity. If the device is Wi-Fi enabled, it can also show live AQI data of locations around the globe. Most air monitors offer indoor as well as outdoor air quality data with respect to their location.
Technology Used In Air Pollution Meters
Laser Scattering Detection
Laser Scattering is one of the most widely used air quality measuring techniques. It is a particle sizing technology used in calculating the number and size of microscopic air pollutants. These pollutants have diameters ranging from nanometers to milimeters.
The technique involves a beam of laser, and provides instant feedback on particle dispersion. Calculations are instantaneous with results being displayed within seconds of the air coming in contact with the detector. A laser scattering monitor can perform hundreds of measurements in a single day with each measurement sampling of a large number of particles (in millions).
Non-Dispersive Infrared Radiation (NDIR) Sensor
This technology involves a non-dispersive infrared radiation sensor which measures the attenuation of infrared radiation of a particular wavelength in the air. The NDIR sensor is fitted with a source which emits infrared radiation. It also contains an infrared detector and a light-water pipe.
This method is used for calculating atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is a highly accurate process. The sensors are known for their stability and are capable of recording high concentrations of carbon dioxide.
An electrochemical sensor comprises of an electrochemical cell with a solid electrolyte. It is used for detecting and measuring carbon dioxide. It usually comes with an integrated auto-calibration feature which lets the user re-calibrate the sensor periodically. This function prevents the sensor from ageing and makes it more stable and reliable.
Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM)
This method is used for measuring the concentration of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in ambient air. It is an effective dust monitoring system. It is based on the absorption of beta radiation by solid particles extracted from the air when it is passed through an ultra-fine filter cartridge.
Let us now take a look at some of the latest gadgets that monitor ambient air pollution. Our team recently conducted a study on air quality measuring devices. Based on the technology used, features and design, they drew up a list of the top 8 air quality monitors. Here they are.
Best Air Pollution Meters In India To Test Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality :
1. SMILEDRIVE Portable Air Quality Monitor
Leading the competition among air monitors is the SMILEDRIVE Air Pollution Meter. It is a portable monitor for measuring air quality in homes, offices and cars. It features a large LED display screen that shows the concentration of particulate matter, TVOCs and formaldehyde.
The SMILEDRIVE pollution meter is based on laser scattering detection technology. It detects PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, formaldehyde and TVOCs. It uses a multi-layer micro-filtration mechanism to prevent ethanol and carbon monoxide from interfering with the gadget’s functions.
The air pollution monitor is equipped with a high-performance three-core 32-bit ARM processor. It is a premium-quality chip that does complex high-speed calculations at ten times the speed of regular chips used in other air pollution meters.
The readings of the SMILEDRIVE meter are also more accurate and reliable thanks to the smart chip design. The 6th generation super-durable anti-interference chip hardware combined with foolproof software algorithms ensure accuracy of air quality measurement.
The meter comes with a collapsible stand which helps it stand erect on flat surfaces. There are 4 detection holes and one micro USB charging point. Separate buttons are provided for power on/off, function, mute and calibration. The SMILEDRIVE air pollution meter has a built-in 1200mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery and comes with a USB charging cable. The device is black in color and weighs 185 g. It measures 5.9” x 2.8” x 1.7”. Test range for formaldehyde is 0-1.999mg/m3, for PM 1, PM 2.5 and PM 10 it is 0~999μg/m3 and for TVOC it is 0~9.999 mg/m3.
2. Airveda Smart Air Quality Monitor
The next top-rated air pollution meter is the Airveda Smart Air Quality Monitor. It is a Wi-Fi enabled app-controllable smart air quality measuring gadget. It is lightweight, portable and can be used in homes and cars. The Airveda meter has a Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM) with a laser sensor specially calibrated for Indian conditions. It displays real-time PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration.
The gadget has prefixed outer limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10 pollution. It alerts the user if and when the limits are crossed when air pollution is acute. It also informs the user when the air quality goes back to normal. The Airveda monitor can be synced with your home or office Wi-Fi to receive live feed of AQI in cities across the globe. It uses the internet to furnish second-by-second AQI data irrespective of monitor location.
The device lets you compare historic AQI data with detailed hourly, daily and monthly stats. This is a big plus point of the device as it lets you plan your outings based on outdoor air pollution trends and forecasts. The gadget also gives you data on outdoor and indoor AQI separately.
In the absence of Wi-Fi, the machine calculates and stores AQI data for up to 2 days. Once it connects with Wi-Fi, the data is uploaded to the cloud for long-term storage. The Airveda monitor has a 3000mAh rechargeable battery that provides back-up for 6-8 hours. It can be charged through any USB power source such as a power bank or a laptop. The sensor has a life of one year.
3. IQAir Air Visual Air Quality Monitor
The IQAir Air Visual Air Pollution Meter is a highly accurate air quality monitor. It shows live PM 2.5 and carbon dioxide concentration using artificial intelligence (AI) and laser sensor technology. It also calculates and displays temperature between -10ᵒC and +40ᵒC and humidity between 0 to 100%.
The IQAir Air Visual monitor is asthma friendly and is safe for use by patients of high blood pressure, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is made from medically-tested materials and can be handled by people of all ages.
The device is app-controllable and sources information from the internet. The IQAir meter uses Advanced Analytics to furnish live AQI stats in over 8000 locations in more than 40 countries based on 6 main air pollutants.
The gadget also provides indoor and outdoor AQI of its current location. It offers historical air quality data and AQI forecasts for 3 days. This data comes in handy while planning family activities like visits to the supermarket and the park. On days predicted to be unusually polluted, you can plan to stay indoors in order to minimize your family’s exposure to polluted air.
The IQAir Air Visual has a large 5-inch LED screen. It has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that offers a run time of 5 hours. The carton contains the air pollution meter, a micro USB-to-USB cable, a power adapter, a node and an instruction manual.
4.Airveda CO2, PM 2.5, PM 10, Temp, Humidity Air Quality Monitor
The next air pollution meter to make our list of top air quality measuring devices is the Airveda Air Quality Monitor. It is a smart Wi-Fi-enabled device that provides real time PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, humidity and temperature data.
The Airveda monitor uses laser sensors which have been specially calibrated for Indian conditions against Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM), the most advanced technology used in studying ambient air quality. The machine is equipped with NDIR CO2 sensors which can be calibrated by the user for optimum results. The sensors for temperature and humidity are calibrated by a NABL master source.
The gadget needs to be connected to the Wi-Fi for real-time AQI data. In case Wi-Fi is unavailable, it relies on its inbuilt local memory to store air quality data for 2 days. Upon connection with the internet, the data is uploaded to the server from where it can be retrieved and viewed anytime.
The Airveda air pollution meter shows historic AQI data with hourly, daily and monthly figures. It also provides indoor and outdoor air quality information with instant high-pollution alerts. The sensor has a life of one year, which can be extended by switching off the device at regular intervals, configurable to once every 5, 10 and 20 minutes.
The machine has a rechargeable battery that can be charged with the help of any USB power source like a power bank, laptop or in-car USB charging point. Once fully charged, it gives a back-up of 4-6 hours.
5. Kaiterra Laser Egg 2 Air Quality Monitor
The next top-rated air pollution meter is the Kaiterra Laser Egg 2 Air Quality Monitor. It is a Wi-Fi-enabled app-controllable smart air quality measuring device. It detects PM 2.5 and displays minute-by-minute concentration. The Kaiterra Laser Egg 2 meter uses a lightning-fast laser-based light scattering technology to accurately count the number of air-borne particulate matter PM 2.5 present in the indoor air. The readings provide PM 2.5 data every 0.1 seconds which is a big feat for an air pollution meter.
The device shows indoor and outdoor AQI and also provides historical data on an hourly, day-to-day and monthly basis. The gadget provides AQI data that fall within a ±10% margin of the readings of the US Embassy in Beijing. Apart from air pollution-related information, the Kaiterra air meter shows the time, humidity, temperature and weather forecast.
The Kaiterra Laser Egg 2 monitor is compatible with Apple HomeKit technology (Siri-enabled) and is slated to support IFTTT in the future. This means you can sync the meter with your smart home appliances like smart AC, smart air purifier and smart humidifier and create a connected ecosystem of smart home gadgets.
You won’t have to worry about turning on the air purifier when the air quality takes a dip, or switching on the humidifier when the air becomes too dry. The collective AI of the gadgets will kick start the appropriate device as per the requirements of the indoor air.
6. Nimble House Air Pollution Level Meter
Another popular gadget is the Nimble House Air Pollution Monitor. It detects and measures PM 2.5, PM 10, formaldehyde and TVOCs present in the atmosphere. It can be used in homes and offices and even cars. Apart from displaying air pollution data, the Nimble House meter also shows humidity and temperature levels. It comes with special sensors for recording humidity and temperature.
The machine uses 2 colors, white and green, for hazard assessment. It has an inbuilt adjustable clock and calendar which makes the gadget very handy. A large LCD screen with LED back light shows air quality data and other climatic information. Buttons are provided on the side of the device for power on/off, alarm switch, display light, clock functions and for clearing/erasing values in TVOC/formaldehyde mode and PM 2.5/PM 10 mode.
The Nimble House air pollution level meter does not have an integrated rechargeable battery. Therefore, it needs continuous power supply through a USB charging able (included). Measuring range of PM 2.5 is 0-500ug/m³, of PM 10 is 0-999ug/m³, of formaldehyde is 0-99.99mg/m³ and of TVOCs is 0-99.99mg/m³. Humidity range is 15-90% and temperature range is between -15ᵒC and +50ᵒC. The device is white in color. Its dimensions are 5.1” x 3.3” x 2” and it weighs 250g.
7. SMILEDRIVE Advanced Pollution Meter
Another reliable air quality monitor is the SMILEDRIVE Advanced Pollution Meter. It is a portable device with a foldable stand/holder that keeps it in an upright position on flat surfaces. It can be used in homes, offices and stores to track ambient air quality.
The SMILEDRIVE Advanced meter shows atmospheric concentration of PM 2.5, PM 10, formaldehyde and TVOCs. It uses state-of-the-art laser detection to monitor particulate matter pollution. For formaldehyde and TVOC readings, the device needs calibration.
The meter measures both indoor and outdoor air quality. It features a 2.8-inch color LCD screen that displays individual data of PM 2.5, PM 10, formaldehyde and TVOCs using a 3-color scale to indicate intensity of pollution. Green indicates safe level, yellow average and red dangerous.
The machine also notifies the user if and when a particular pollutant, say formaldehyde, exceeds the sustainable limit. The SMILEDRIVE Advanced meter has an integrated 2200mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery which can be charged using a USB power cable. When battery is low, the device blinks to signal low-battery status. If not in use for a long time, the gadget switches to sleep mode to conserve power. To start the device again, it has to be manually turned on.
The SMILEDRIVE monitor has 4 detection holes and separate buttons for power on/off, mute, function and calibration. Measuring range of formaldehyde is 0.000~1.999mg/m3 and of TVOC is 0.000~9.999mg/m3. Sampling range of PM 2.5 and PM 10 is 0~999μg/m3. The product measures 5.9” x 2.8” x 1.7” and weighs 199g.
8. Health Innovative Airbliss Air Pollution Level Meter
The final product on our list of top indoor air quality monitors is the Health Innovative Airbliss meter. It is a mobile air pollution monitoring device for home, office and car use. It can be used in indoor and outdoor environments.
The Health Innovative Airbliss monitor is based on cutting-edge Laser Scattering Detection Technology and Semiconductor Sensing Technology. It uses Laser Scattering to accurately count particulate matter present in the atmosphere. It records minute-by-minute PM 1, PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration. Formaldehyde and TVOCs levels in real-time are measured by this.
The meter weighs only 185g and has a super-portable design. It incorporates a collapsible stand that keeps the device in an upright position on flat surfaces like table tops and counters. A large easy-to-read LED screen displays air quality data. Buttons are available on the side panel for power, mute, function and calibration (required for formaldehyde and TVOC).
The gadget has a 1200mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery. A USB charging cable is included in the package for quick and easy recharging. Detection range of PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10 is 0~999μg/m3, of formaldehyde is 0-1.999mg/m3 and of TVOCs is 0~9.999mg/m3. The machine has a simple and functional design. It is black in color and has single-key calibration. Dimensions of the product are 5.9” x 2.8” x 1.7”.