Phase Two: Exposure, Location and Lung Function (ELF) - Tool and Method Development

 Air pollution is a known factor in the pathogenesis of asthma. However, monitoring air pollution can be very difficult, as individuals move around throughout the day. Measuring short-term and long-term (cumulative) exposure is necessary to more clearly understand the environmental concerns that may contribute to respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

Therefore researchers at OSU must first develop certain tools capable of connecting environmental exposures to health outcomes. Phase Two of the research program is designed to create, test and refine a device that can collect both ambient air exposure data, proximity to sources of air pollution, and test lung function. The device will be tested in two different communities:

  • West Eugene, Oregon (point sources of air pollution)
  • Rural Appalachian counties, Ohio (proximity to hydraulic fracturing operations)

The research team headed by Dr. Kim Anderson, a professor in the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology department at OSU, developed new technology that is capable of monitoring individual exposures to airborne pollutants. These small, lightweight personal samplers are made of silicone which absorbs chemicals in the air. Researchers can then extract and identify these chemicals.

MED device

The device is composed of three parts: A mobile phone, a silicone wristband, and a portable spirometer. The wristband will monitor cumulative exposure time (all the chemicals you are exposed to over a certain period of time), while the spirometer is used to measure lung function. Spirometry is a common test used in the diagnosis of lung diseases, measuring the air flow in a person's lungs. The data from the spirometer is securely transmitted to an mobile phone, which encodes and transmits the data to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL). In addition, the Android phone takes periodic GPS coordinates, which are also transmitted to PNNL. There the data is analyzed for lung function and location to various sources of air pollution.


Click on the links below to learn more about each component of the ELF.


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