Stara Zagora is located in Southern Bulgaria, and although it is a city of industry and agriculture, it also suffers from poor air quality. In fact, the city recently competed in a global Climathon to work on the problem of urban pollution. Here’s how the problem was defined:
Stara Zagora is the most significant source of air pollution in the country. According to the World Health organization, the index for air pollution of Stara Zagora is ranked as high (70.00). The major causes are the industry and more precisely the Maritsa Iztok Power plant complex, and the domestic heating with solid fuels, the heavy traffic and adverse weather conditions. Though vigorous measures are taken, the levels of air pollution are still high.
Luckily Greenpeace Bulgaria recently launched a project, Prahobroyachi, which places the power of DIY air quality monitors into the hands of citizen scientists. According to Greenpeace, the project uses Arduino through a partnership with Robotev to create open source Dustcounters. The boards use an ATmega 328p and make it easy to attach a dust sensor and fan. They also have a WiFi module so data can be relayed and posted to Greenpeace’s site each day.
So far 25 volunteers have been given kits and supposedly most of the units are now deployed. The project will continue through February of next year when results will be compared. As with most citizen scientist projects, encouraging people to create their own environmental sensing devices promotes awareness of the problem. Hopefully between the hackathons and work of Greenpeace, this city will create innovative solutions for their air pollution. Although this project seems to be well underway, Greenpeace has already stated that they look forward to designing an even better device for 2017. I’m curious if they are going to add specific sensors for different gases.
If you are curious about air quality, you should check out our learning guide on our Gas Sensor Breakout. The sensor can tell you whether any of these gases are present: CO, Ammonia, Ethanol, H2 , and Methane/Propane/Iso-Butane. Although the sensor can’t reveal which specific gas is present, it is a great find for someone with an interest in citizen science or someone that works in a garage. It’s always a good idea to question your air quality.