A Home Air Quality Monitor That Can Be Checked Out From The Library

Air pollution comes from many sources — power plants, industrial production and fires, to name a few. In Pittsburgh, the most polluted city east of California, according the American Lung Association, avoiding dirty air while outdoors can be difficult, if not impossible. But a new device, available through the public library system, helps people identify and reduce bad air quality inside their homes.

John Horchner, one of those people, has been eagerly waiting to check out a Speck air quality monitor from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library for a few weeks. The small, WiFi-connected device detects and calculates the level of fine particulate matter, particles that are invisible to the naked eye and just a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair. The lower the count, the better the air — and the fewer risks to health.

A high presence of particulate matter can exacerbate problems like asthma, lung disease and allergies. But the loanable air monitor is helping residents find and fix the source of the problem.

The Speck air quality monitor costs $200, but is available to all through Pittsburgh’s public library system.Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab