Intelligent Wearable Analyzer for Vapor Exposure (iWAVE) in Transportation Sector Exposure to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) has been linked to a variety of health effects, such as cancer, asthma, autism, reduced fertility, and lower intelligence. Development of effective strategies for reducing occupational exposure to HAPs requires accurate, time-resolved measurement of exposure. Current practice typically requires collection of a sample in the field using a canister or sorbent tube, transport to the lab, and then application of gas chromatography with a detector to identify and quantify the species present in the environment. A small, unobtrusive, wearable, direct-read device with 5-min time resolution for exposure assessment would enhance worker exposure monitoring and advance our capabilities for exposure-response epidemiologic study. The proposed project will employ microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, advanced microelectronics components and systems, and state-of-the-art micro gas chromatography (GC) and telecommunication techniques to develop an intelligent wearable analyzer for vapor exposure (iWAVE) for use in the Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (TWU) sector and in others where workers are exposed to similar chemical hazards (Exposure Assessment cross-sector). iWAVE allows to better assess on a real-time basis the effects of workplace conditions and activities on HAP generation and subsequent exposure. This capability has three major outcomes: (1) to allow identification of specific activities that are associated with elevated exposures so that mitigation efforts might be applied most effectively; (2) to enable greatly improved monitoring of personal occupational exposure in health effects studies; and (3) to provide a platform for a real-time detection system that can alert workers to hazardous conditions.
Three specific aims for the proposed project are: 1) implementation and characterization of iWAVE MEMS modules including air sampling, preconcentration, and injection (ASPI) and multi-dimensional separation and detection (GC Matrix or GCM) modules, 2) iWAVE implementation and evaluation under simulated occupational environments, and 3) iWAVE validation and utilization for exposure analysis in the transportation sector through the assistance of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (R2P). Thirty experienced heavy-vehicle workers performing diesel re- fueling and maintenance tasks will wear both conventional industrial hygiene sampling trains and iWAVE for breathing zone sample collection within a 0.4m radius of the nose/mouth. iWAVE superiority in terms of the total analysis time (<5min) for HAP identification even in low-concentration (ppbv) environments will be demonstrated. While focused on exposure monitoring, the scientific and technological impacts of this project may extend to other applications if this research is accomplished successfully.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of the project is to develop an intelligent wearable analyzer for vapor exposure (iWAVE) that can be used to measure hazardous air pollutants in real-time in transportation-related and other workplaces. It can replace cumbersome sampling methods that must be followed by costly analysis in a laboratory. The system is programmable through smartphone apps and can send alarms in case of high levels of exposures beyond the pre-defined set point.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Project (R01)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Karr, Joan
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Engineering (All Types)
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
United States
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