About this project

This project aims to help citizens learn how to build low-cost, portable sensors to obtain qualitative measures of levels of several priority air pollutants. On this website, citizens will learn how to build an air quality sensor, interpret air quality data, and obtain information about targeted air pollutants. As a result, we hope citizens will become aware of local and global air quality issues and actively participate in improving air quality. This project was carried out by the faculty and staff research team at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, in partnership with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  This project is funded by the European Union.*

“The mission of the OPCW is to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in order to achieve the OPCW’s vision of a world that is free of chemical weapons and of the threat of their use, and in which cooperation in chemistry for peaceful purposes for all is fostered."

Chemical weapons should be seen in the context of other chemical substances that can cause harm to humans and the environment. Air pollutants are one of the many other categories of substances that compromise human and environmental safety. Outdoor air pollution is a substantial threat to human health, given that it was estimated to cause 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012. Due to their hazard to human and environmental safety, air pollutants are also a category of substances of concern to the OPCW. As citizens use these resources to build simple sensors, measure the levels of trace air pollutants, and share data with others, they will also come to appreciate the monitoring work done by OPCW to detect trace levels of substances listed on the CWC schedules of compounds.

Nurturing cooperation in chemistry for peaceful and responsible uses is also an integral part of the OPCW strategy for achieving a world free of chemical weapons, and preventing their re-emergence. OPCW hopes that citizens participating in this project by building and using tools for understanding and measuring priority air pollutants, will also develop an appreciation of the responsible uses of science and technology, and be able to more meaningfully take action toward better local air quality.

More information may be found at: Mahaffy, P. G.; Martin, B.; Ooms, K. J.; Tappenden, A. F.; Oliver, M.; Hislop-Hook, R.; Forman, J.; Mans, U.; Sabou, J. Citizen science and international collaboration through environmental monitoring with simple chemical sensors. Pure Appl Chem 2017, 89(2).
click to open


Project Members
- Dr. Jonathan Forman, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
- Dr. Peter Mahaffy, KCVS, The King’s University
- Dr. Brian Martin, KCVS, The King’s University
- Dr. Kristopher Ooms, KCVS, The King’s University
- Rachel Hislop-Hook, KCVS, The King’s University
- Mckenzie Oliver, KCVS, The King’s University
- Marc-Olivier Lajeunesse, KCVS, University of Alberta
- Alexander Shmakov, KCVS The King’s University

Other Contributors
-Dr. Melanie Hoffman, The King’s University
-Dr. Matthew Ooms, University of Toronto
-Dr. Sarah Styler, University of Alberta
-Dr. David Stone, Univeristy of Toronto
-Benjamin Bachman, The King’s University
-Chris Mostert, The King’s University
click to open


For inquiries, please contact Peter Mahaffy (peter.mahaffy@kingsu.ca) or Jonathan Forman (jonathan.forman@opcw.org)