Microsampling Air Pollution

Near the corner of Tillary and Jay Streets in Brooklyn, Michael Heimbinder stood near a blue mailbox, head down, poking at his smartphone. A graph appeared: a single line plotting ambient carbon monoxide exposure in the neighborhood.

Minutes later, he ran over to an idling Honda Pilot and held a small, black sensor to its tailpipe. On his phone, carbon monoxide levels, predictably, jumped off the chart. A woman opened the car door and said, “Can I help you out?”

“Just sampling air,” Mr. Heimbinder said. He gave a quick grin and dashed on to a woman with a lighted cigarette.

Mr. Heimbinder, 36, who lives in Park Slope and runs a nonprofit organization called HabitatMap, is a pollution hunter. Armed with a portable sensor attached with Velcro to his biceps, he uses his smartphone to record minuscule fluctuations in air quality. The system, known as AirCasting, allows him to create and share online color-coded maps of neighborhood air quality. (Hardware components cost as little as $180 — the whole thing is about the size of three smartphones.)

Read full text at The New York Times