Fynn Eckstein

Pollution Sensor

Pollution is an everyday topic in European news these days. On the 24th of JanuaryLondon reached higher pollution values then Beijing did the same day. Stuttgart triggered the „Smog Alert“ (people are asked to use public transport to a reduced fair or to carpool) 17 times in January 2017.
According to a statistic of the WHO one out of seven people (9 million) died because of pollution 2012.1   According to Pure Earth a non-Profit environmental organization children who live in the words most polluted places are borne with defects or have lost up to 40iQ points.2

But what amount of pollution is dangerous ?


How polluted is the air breath in exactly this moment ?

This project tries to answer these questions.
But first to understand the subjected topic completely it is important to know that there are two different „types“ of Pollution widely measured.

PM 10

These particles include dust, pollen, mold spores and other particles smaller than 10µm.
50% of these particles are not filtered by your nose and throat ending up in your lungs.
With every increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM10, the risk of lung cancer rises by 22%.


These smaller particles include combustion particles, organic compounds, metals and other particles smaller than 2.5µm. 50% of these particles are so small that they pass through the lungs and affect other organs directly.
PM2,5 can penetrate the lungs deeper. An increase by 10 μg/m3 augments the risk of lung cancer by 36%.

The Pollution Sensor

This project gives you an easy and simple solution to track the concentration of PM10 and PM2,5 particles in your everyday surrounding.(e.g.at university, at work, at home ,on your tennis court …) The GUI enables you to see how high the actual concentration is. Additional information such as the average of concentration measured in selected cities around Europe, EU and WHO limits are displayed.  So you can classify your values directly and get a feeling for the amount of pollution you are living in.

If you want to inform yourself further, additional information about the different types and risks is displayed on the screen.

Build your own Pollution Sensor

Components needed:

-Shinyei PPD42NS Dust Sensor (Grove Dust Sensor)
-Arduino board with 5V Output.
-Some wires.

Wiring plan 

The code and the Vector to laser cut the box out of 2mm Cardboard can be downloaded on GitHub: https://github.com/hazer007/Shinyei-PPD42NS-Dust-Sensor-GUI-Processing-1.git

1. http://www.pureearth.org/blog/pollution-15-facts-that-might-surprise-you/ 



  1. Excellent job so far, Fynn! Now let us focus a little bit on a core question here:

    How can the knowledge about our (breathing) environment lead us to action?

    This implies two other questions that need to be addressed first: What kind of ACTION should the display of information foster? (Run away? Hide in the basement?) And what knowledge is it EXACTLY that is necessary to decide on those actions. (Comparison with legal limiting values? Evaluation of personal health risks?) Otherwise we end up with just another resultless display of “fun-facts-of-the-day”. Or even worse we might just scare people off, giving them a feeling of helplessness.

    Once we know what we want to show exactly and to what ends we want to show it we can start working on HOW we actually display that information. Your first sketch to display the data might at first glance look “objective” but after a closer look the motivations for the graphics are quite unclear so far. No graphic depiction is ever objective and to avoid producing noise we need to be clear about our objectives.

  2. Thanks for the comment Ralph,
    I totally understand your point and I thought a lot about what the best call to action is. I definitly want to implement somthing like this but it is quite hard to give an general advice because the sources of pollution are so different and wearing a pollution mask and buying a air purifier is not a real solution for me.
    I think as soon as I find a solution for this also the interface will become more clear.

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