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Personal NO2 sensor demonstrates feasibility of in-home exposure measurements for pediatric asthma research and management



One of the most common pollutants in residences due to gas appliances, NO2 has been shown to increase the risk of asthma attacks after small increases in short term exposure. However, standard environmental sampling methods taken at the regional level overlook chronic intermittent exposure due to lack of temporal and spatial granularity. Further, the EPA and WHO do not currently provide exposure recommendations to at-risk populations.


A pilot study with pediatric asthma patients was conducted to investigate potential deployment challenges as well as benefits of home-based NO2 sensors and, when combined with a subject’s hospital records and self-reported symptoms, the richness of data available for larger-scale epidemiological studies.


We developed a compact personal NO2 sensor with one minute temporal resolution and sensitivity down to 15 ppb to monitor exposure levels in the home. Patient hospital records were collected along with self-reported symptom diaries, and two example hypotheses were created to further demonstrate how data of this detail may enable study of the impact of NO2 in this sensitive population.


17 patients (55%) had at least 1 h each day with average NO2 exposure >21 ppb. Frequency of acute NO2 exposure >21 ppb was higher in the group with gas stoves (U = 27, p ≤ 0.001), and showed a positive correlation (rs = 0.662, p = 0.037, 95% CI 0.36–0.84) with hospital admissions.


Similar studies are needed to evaluate the true impact of NO2 in the home environment on at-risk populations, and to provide further data to regulatory bodies when developing updated recommendations.

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Fig. 1: System-level overview and data collection strategy.
Fig. 2: Compact in-home air quality sensor assembly.
Fig. 3: Deployment results breakdown.
Fig. 4: Residential NO2 exposure vs. gas appliances.
Fig. 5: Two-day deployment in-home NO2 readings.

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Clinical data was collected through Children’s National Hospital in accordance with a plan approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB; #Pro00009593). Supported by National Institutes of Health grant 1U01EB021986-01. This paper is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy (

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RSD: conceptualization, methodology, validation, formal analysis, investigation, data curation, writing—original draft, writing—review and editing, visualization. QD: conceptualization, methodology, software, validation, formal analysis, data curation, writing—review and editing. EC: investigation, data curation, resources, writing—review and editing. BL: conceptualization, methodology, software, formal analysis, investigation, writing—review and editing. NT: software, data curation. JHJ: investigation, resources, data curation. DKP: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, investigation, resources, writing—review and editing, supervision, project administration, funding acquisition. MZ: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, resources, writing—review and editing, supervision, project administration, funding acquisition. ZL: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, resources, writing—review and editing, supervision, project administration, funding acquisition.

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Correspondence to Zhenyu Li.

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Scott Downen, R., Dong, Q., Chorvinsky, E. et al. Personal NO2 sensor demonstrates feasibility of in-home exposure measurements for pediatric asthma research and management. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 32, 312–319 (2022).

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