The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg is developing improved chemical sensors that are not prohibitively expensive. One particularly important area of application involves the regular measurement of ozone content in air and other media. This gas is a powerful oxidizing agent and can cause a wide range of symptoms in humans, including lacrimation, irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and bronchial tubes, headaches, coughing and even deterioration in lung function. The main sources of ozone pollution are industrial and transport emissions; particularly in warmer weather, these react with intensive UV radiation to form ground-level ozone. But laser printers and copiers, machines so prevalent in modern-day offices, can also emit ozone.
The European Commission has announced its intention to cut the guideline value for ozone in the air from the current level of 90 parts per billion to 60 parts per billion by 2010, and when this new regulation comes into force, there will be an increased demand for inexpensive ozone sensors.
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