March 21, 2013 By News Staff
Answer: a portable secondhand smoke sensor
Dartmouth College researchers have invented the first-ever secondhand tobacco smoke sensor -- a sensor that records data in real time, and can detect thirdhand smoke, or nicotine off-gassing from clothing, furniture, car seats and other material, according to a press release.
The current prototype is smaller and lighter than a cellphone, but researchers expect to convert it into a wearable, affordable and reusable device that helps to enforce no smoking regulations and sheds light on the pervasiveness of secondhand smoke.
The device, according to the release, can pinpoint when and where the exposure occurred and even the number of cigarettes smoked. The prototype proved successful in lab tests, and clinical studies will start this summer.
"This is a leap forward in secondhand smoke exposure detection technology," said Chemistry Professor Joseph BelBruno, whose lab conducted the research.
Federal health officials report that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease and childhood illness. An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54 percent of children ages 3 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke.
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