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Chinese researchers develop mobile device to trace key source of air pollution

Chinese researchers have developed a mobile device that can trace volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a key source of air pollution, as the country with the world’s largest carbon emissions continues its battle to bring back blue skies.

The equipment, comprising a vibration-resistant sensor, a positioning signal receiver and geographic information system, can be attached to vehicles to trace the distribution of VOCs in cities.

VOCs are important precursors of ozone (O3) and PM2.5 matter – the most harmful small particles and a key indicator of air pollution.

It is difficult to trace them with conventional laboratory testing equipment, at a fixed site or with portable sensors, because their distribution and emission times are complicated, according to a statement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, whose researchers conducted the study.

The data obtained by the device will be used to image the aerial distribution of VOCs in real time while the vehicle platform is moving.

It is currently being used in several places, including Shanghai, Jiangsu province and Macau, the statement said.

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