Friday, January 15, 2016


Speck Fine Particle Matter Detector, Pittsburgh, 2016

Speck (tm) is a fine particle matter device that allows you to easily monitor the quality of the air in your home.  Developed at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, its primary application is for individuals with lung and heart ailments to better be able to control their indoor environments.  While neither I nor my wife suffer from these sorts of illnesses, I got a Speck detector on loan through the Carnegie Library system in Pittsburgh.  
Pittsburgh has the most polluted air in the country outside of California, and it's all fine particulates that you can't see, except when you're cleaning, and then there's a fine black filth adhering to the rag, resettled airborne residue from nearby coal burning power plants.  I was curious about our indoor air quality because we do have a dog and a cat, and most winter nights I have a fire going in the wood burning stove.  When I took the picture above, the furnace had just kicked on and the PM indicator began to spike.  Well, what do you know, someone forgot to change the filter in the furnace this past fall.  I took care of that first thing this morning, installing an allergen plus to cut down on the circulating dust.
Tomorrow I'll move it to another room, the instructions tell you to monitor throughout your house.  I pulled up all of the wall-to-wall carpets last year, so I'm not anticipating much change.  I am curious to see what we'll find when we take it over to my mother-in-law's house.  Like a lot of old people, she doesn't think that she needs to clean very often, and almost never vacuums.  She's very asthmatic and prone to bouts of bronchitis, so maybe if we can show her the PM level indoors, maybe she'll make some adjustments.  I'm not holding my breath, though.


Jane Droll said...

well i must need one of these things! i cough a lot, and i don't smoke. i know it is all the junk in the air, and my less-than-perfect track record in housekeeping. dusting is not my favorite thing to do. bleh!

hope you are enjoying the new year so far!

p.s. you put one of these things in china and it would probably have a coughing fit before expiring altogether!

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

We run an air purifier, but only in the bedroom. If I don't, then I wake up with a head stuffed with snot that it takes all morning to drain out.