Tim Quinn, Industries & Environment, Business Development Manager and Cloud Technologies Subject Matter Expert
The devastation from the ever-increasing wildfires in California is bad enough, but after the fires are extinguished, the people lucky enough to be able to go back to their homes have justified concerns about how their lives are affected going forward. One of those concerns, of course, is air quality and a prime focus is how wildfires and their aftermath affect schoolchildren.
A recent study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (“Health effects of wildfire smoke in children and public health tools: a narrative review”, Holm, Miller and Barnes, September 2020) said that about 7.4 million U.S. children are affected by wildfires every year and in one day in 2018, more than a million schoolkids in California had classes cancelled because of wildfires.
Wildfires produce ashes, debris, or toxic chemicals in the air which are especially challenging for children with asthma or other respiratory issues and chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing have been experienced by even healthy children. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental hazards from wildfire as they eat more food, drink more liquids, and breathe more air than adults on a pound-for-pound basis. In addition, they are still growing and developing.
The journal article concludes, “Thus, it is crucially important that we not only continue to work to better understand the health effects of wildfire smoke in children, but also that we bring regulatory bodies and stakeholders together now to act to mitigate the health effects that are already established.”
Where there are threats to schoolkids, parents and school administrators aren’t far behind, questioning what’s in the air after the wildfire and how is it going to affect our kids. As you’ll see in the following case study, SGS Galson’s SmartSense cloud remote continuous monitoring system provided a faster, more efficient, and most accurate way of determining the effect of the wildfires.
After the 2018 wildfires, parents and school officials in a Los Angeles school district were concerned about emissions exposure from the cleanup of burnt remnants. SGS Galson was hired to perform air testing at the schools to monitor potential exposure.
SGS Galson installed over 25 SmartSense units surrounding the schools of concern for time spans ranging from three months to one year. Sensors were equipped with CO, CO2, H2S, PM2.5 and 10, and select units were equipped with a sampling system to speciate particulate makeup. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen dioxide and heavy metals were looked for as compounds of interest. Because all cell tower infrastructure was destroyed in the fires, a school WIFI network was used. Remote 24-hour monitoring, automated sample capture took place, with downloadable data collected.
Data collected using SmartSense units indicated low, or trace levels which allowed the school district to take any appropriate actions needed to assure returning to the school was safe. Traditional efforts would have taken five to seven people and over six different individual pieces of equipment.
SmartSense is the archetype for SGS Galson’s guiding concept of “The Internet of Things” or IoT technology which uses professional-grade sensors, software, and other innovative technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems through cyberspace; and there is nothing on the market that’s more cost-effective. With the clout of being part of the number one testing company in the world, we are secure in our purpose to provide solutions that protect lives, whether it be amidst California wildfires or countless other situations.
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Industries & Environment
Business Development Manager and Cloud Technologies Subject Matter Expert
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