AIR :: Area's Immediate Reading :: LAUNCHES SEPTEMBER 14, 2006
"Allowing you to explore your neighborhood and urban environment for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots."
AIR is a public, social experiment in which people are invited to use Preemptive Media's portable air monitoring devices to explore their neighborhoods and urban environments for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots.
Participants or "carriers" are able to see pollutant levels in their current locations, as well as simultaneously view measurements from the other AIR devices in the network. An on-board GPS unit and digital compass, combined with a database of known pollution sources such as power plants and heavy industries, allow carriers to see their distance from polluters as well. The AIR devices regularly transmit data to a central database allowing for real time data visualization on this website.
While AIR is designed to be a tool for individuals and groups to self identify pollution sources, it also serves as a platform to discuss energy politics and their impact on environment, health and social groups in specific regions.
The project launched September 14, 2006, in New York City. A preliminary worskhop was held on June 24. Since 2006, Preemptive Media has exhibited and demonstrated AIR in Long Beach, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; Australia; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; and San Francisco, CA.*************************************************************************** Technical Details
The AIR devices are equipped with sensors that detect carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and ground level Ozone (O3). Other gases are detected as well but will appear as noise to our system. Nitrogen oxides or NOx is a generic term for a group of gases that contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts. NOx results from combustion, and the primary manmade sources are automobiles, electric utilities and other industrial, commercial or residential sources that burn fuels. NOx occur naturally as well. A common NOx is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is one of the main ingredients in forming both ground-level ozone and acid rain. Ground level ozone can trigger serious respiratory problems in people and acid rain causes lakes and streams to become unsuitable for many fish. NOx can be transported over long distances with the help of strong winds, which means its effects are not contained to locations near the polluting source. Carbon monoxide (CO) is also a by-product of combustion and is formed when the carbon in fuel is not burned thoroughly. People with heart disease are most likely to suffer from low exposure to CO and it can be deadly at extremely high levels. CO contributes to the formation of smog, or ground-level ozone.  CO and NOx are not considered greenhouse gases, but they do impact the concentrations of methane, ozone, CFC substitutes (HCFC), which are main greenhouse gases. Therefore, they are considered indirect greenhouse gases. One study shows that the reduction of indirect greenhouse gases in conjunction with the main greenhouse gases is vital to control climate change.  Ground level ozone (O3) is created by a chemical reaction between NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Ozone has the same chemical structure whether it occurs miles above the earth or at ground-level and can be "good" or "bad," depending on its location in the atmosphere. Ground-level ozone is the primary constituent of smog. Sunlight and hot weather cause ground-level ozone to form in harmful concentrations in the air. As a result, it is known as a summertime air pollutant. 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. calculates air quality on five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter or PM), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The EPA has established an Air Quality Index (AQI) or standards to protect public health. The AQI tells us how safe the air is to breathe in a given region on a given day. The U.S. government bases its AQI on fixed monitoring devices that are highly sensitive but spread over a wide distance. While the sensors in our AIR devices are not high resolution (parts per million), they do move with an individual and indicate one's personal air intake. Our AIR devices show the changes of pollutant levels from block-to-block and at intervals of several minutes. Therefore, our device records the range of levels within a small geographical area experienced by a person over a short period of time. The AIR device has dual modes: a personal reading mode and comapss mode. When the device is worn on the body using the strap or the screen is parallel to the ground, it is in personal reading mode and displays only the immediate CO and NOx levels. As soon as you bring the device in front of your face and the screen is perpendicular to the ground, it switches into compass mode. At this point the device indicates the presence of any heavy, industrial or commercial polluters along with their yearly emissions. Our source of information is the EPA's database of nation-wide polluters called the National Emissions Inventory. While in compass mode, if any other AIR carrier is in line of sight, an icon will appear on the screen along with that device's current readings and distance. References:
 Six Common Air Pollutants, Environmental Protection Agency, <http://www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/nox/hlth.html>
 Effective Control of Global Warming by Simultaneous Reduction of NOx and CO Emissions: Development of a Method for Assessing the Impact of Air Pollutant Gases on Global Warming, Dr. Hajime Akimoto & Dr. James Oliver Wild, <http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/eng/akimoto/010502/>
 Ground Level Ozone, Environmental Protection Agency, <http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/>
 Air Quality Index: A Guide to Air Quality and Your Health, AIR NOW, <http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=static.aqi>