Air pollution and how it influences children’s academic skills

There are a number of serious health effects of air pollution, one of them being poor academic performance of students in polluted areas. For example this study has found there to be a link.

The study found that schools located in areas with the highest pollution levels also had the lowest attendance rates and the highest proportions of students failing to meet the state’s educational testing standards.

Previous studies have also show that children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than adults. Evidence suggests that exposure to pollutants during important times of physiological development can lead to long-lasting health problems, dysfunction, and disease.

Especially young children are in danger, as their lung functioning is not yet fully developed. Compared to adults, they breathe in greater levels of polluted air in relation to their weight and spend more time outside when air pollution levels are the highest. Children are often exposed to higher levels of arsenic, lead, pesticides, and other pollutants than adults, because of differences in metabolism and children’s tendency to put their hands and small objects in their mouths.

The alarming aspect of this is that childhood is a critical time period for brain formation. Researchers have shown that children who are exposed to air pollution perform worse on cognitive functioning tests and have impaired neurological function and lower IQ scores compared with other children.

Children exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – a common air pollutant generated by the burning of fossil fuels – have been found to have decreases of 6.71, 7.37 and 8.61 points in quantitative, working memory and gross motor areas, according to the article.

Also, children with high levels of exposure to both NO2 and PM10 perform significantly worse on neurobehavioral tests, even after confounding variables are factored in. They also have a decreased ability to perform well on both verbal and nonverbal intelligence and memory assessment tests, such as the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test and the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning.


So when we were asked to be present at China-Finland Principals Forum 2016, we of course wanted to be there to talk to principals about the importance of clean air, especially in schools. It is clear that we can’t resolve the living conditions of all children, but we can at least make sure that the school environment is safe for them.

As school is about to start in many countries, including Finland, we hope to bring more awareness to the topic of this post. We also hope to cooperate with many more schools in future and help them resolve any possible air quality problems.




Envitems E4100 in Finland House at Rio Olympics


Envitems has been asked by Cleantech Finland and Finpro to partner with the Finnish National Olympic Committee in building a unique business platform for Finnish cleantech companies at the Summer Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Finland House is a venue for business and sport-related events, ministerial and presidential visits and the Finnish Olympic Team press conferences.

In Finland House, there will be three mobile games, one of which is a cleantech related game for professionals. The mobile game takes its players around Finland House, where they will be performing fun and easy tasks. Envitems has participated in the creation of the game by providing an Envitems E4100 air quality station.

“Envitems is proud to be a part of the team and support the cause” states Envitems CEO Eero Alkkiomaki.

Finland House is open for the last ten days of the Olympics on 12-21 August. The venue is located in downtown Rio de Janeiro, next to the Olympic Boulevard.

Mobile air quality measurements

Mobile air quality measurements seem to be one of the new trends in air quality monitoring. Air quality stations and sensors can be attached to UAVs and ULMs. Personal monitoring is also an emerging trend. Monitors can travel inside backpacks or the smallest ones even in pockets. The difficulty with personal monitoring is that the pocket or backpack canvas can obstruct the airflow, which means that the measurements can give a too optimistic view of the actual air quality. This can be avoided by attaching air quality monitors for example to bicycles or otherwise allowing the monitors to be in direct contact with ambient air.

Envitems is excited to be a part of the trend. We encourage our customers to come up with new innovative ideas to monitor air quality and we want to continue to develop products that insipre.


E4100 station with the full configuration (four gases, PM2.5, PM10, 2/3 G modem, and of course temperature, humidity and air pressure) weighs around 1-2 kgs, so it is perfectly suitable for mobile measurements. The power consumption is typically 0.5 W, so that a solar panel or a rechargeable battery can be used to power it.

The additional memory card logs the measurements into memory, so the measurement log can be retrieved later when the unit is connected to a PC.

Alternatively, the customer can use the 2/3 G modem and either use their own datasystems, or our free of charge cloud service measurement database, EnvitemsDB. A demo of it is available here:

For personal monitoring, the product can be made even smaller and lighter by removing the radiation shields, but in many cases, the extra protection of weather conditions can be quite useful.

Who’s Afraid of Global Warming?

A recent study by the National Geographic WILD (20th of April 2016) found that 94% believe in global warming. The study also found that 87% believe that humans contribute to the global warming at least a little bit. This is good news, since previous studies have shown typically around high 70% of people believing in global warming and in the last few years around 80%.

This indicates that attitudes are slowly changing, which is only appropriate, since 2015 was the hottest year since 1880 and this March was the warmest March since the records began.

The effects of climate change range from extremely severe weather conditions such as hurricanes to bleaching of the coral reefs, droughts and floods.

Even though people seem to be more aware of global warming, the poll found that only 64% of the interviewed were concerned. So why aren’t people worried?

There is quite a bit of research on human behaviour, see for example here  or here and the results suggest that these attitudes might be due to most people not feeling personally threatened by climate change because it is vague, abstract and difficult to visualise. People in many parts of the world may have a tendency to think that it will not be a problem in their lifetime.

Until recently, psycological factors weren’t a part of the conversation around air pollution, air quality and eventually climate change and global warming. There has been a large focus on raising awareness of climate change, but unfortunately that awareness hasn’t turned into action as much as concerned parties probably had hoped for.  Possibly with the help of behavioural sciences, it will be possible to turn that awareness into action.


Earth Day 2016 and Paris Agreement

This year’s Earth Day, Friday 22nd of April is an important day in many ways. Earth Day is celebrated annually in order to support environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and the tradition has continued ever since.

This year Earth Day also marks the signing of the Paris Agreement. The climate protection treaty drafted in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris last year is dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. 195 nations were present at the conference in Paris and 120 nations are expected to sign the agreement.

Paris Agreement sets the nations the objective to protect the environment by:

“Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

And making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Countries furthermore aim to reach “global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible”.

Critics say that the Paris Agreement doesn’t have any binding enforcement mechanisms for the nations and therefore is more about aims than commitments. Many countries that did not sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, are now expected to sign the Paris Agreement. The Kyoto Protocol had great objectives to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and also had binding targets, but the problem with the protocol was that different nations had different targets. Or to be more precise, some countries had binging targets, while others didn’t.

Hopefully the next agreement will have binding targets for all countries, since we all share the same atmoshepre.




Spring is here (and so are the particles)

It is finally springtime in Finland, after a long cold winter with lots of ice and snow. The weather is nicer, the birds are back and plants are showing some signs of life after the winter. And yes, finally some sunrays as well. It’s wonderful to see the nature (and people) come back to life.




The thing is, because of the ice and snow we have five months of the year, there needs to be a lot of gravel on the streets to keep people from slipping and falling when walking around in the winter. And when it snows more, yet another layer of gravel has to be put on the streets. When the sunrays finally melt the snow in the spring, we find that the streets are looking like this:




The hundreds of kilograms of gravel on the streets release small particles in the air, effecting the air quality negatively. One of the worst times when it comes to air quality in Finland is now, these weeks in the spring when the gravel is still on the ground, before it is removed and the streets washed.

For particle measurements, see our particle counter, more information here.

E4100 Public Demo

Envitems has installed a demo of E4100 air quality station outside our office in Tampere, Finland. We have also made available to the public a demo of our measurement service.

The demo device measures pollutants SO2, CO and H2S. It also measures air temperature, humidity and pressure, and shows the measurements in real time.

The demo of EnvitemsDB doesn’t have all of the features we offer to our customers, including remote management of the device, but it is an introduction to the measurement service.

Have a look, and tell us what you think!



Envitems at Slush 2015


Greetings from Slush 2015!

Envitems had a stand on Thursday and we were very surprised and happy to meet many interesting people and talk to them about our products and how they can be utilized in many different applications. We’re sorry to say that we ran out of business cards in the first few hours, so eventually we had to give brochures and write our contact information on them.

It was very interesting and invigorating to meet people and share ideas. We at Envitems feel more enthusiastic than ever about our products and their possibilities. We talked about integrating E4100 on a drone, to measure air quality locally, and utilize the big data which can be achieved that way, for example in figuring out a healthier route to work (in terms of air quality).

As E4100 has a 3G connection and can be solar powered, it can be connected to the Internet whilst on the move. This means that the product can be used almost anywhere.

We also talked about utilizing E4100 in HVAC automation. That way we can also monitor indoor air quality, which is also very important for the health and well-being of people (and working efficiency).

We also met people who told us about their products and ideas. We were truly inspired by the atmoshere.


There were also many interesting speakers present at Slush. Some of the most interesting for us were to do with smart cities and cleantech, but for example speeches about the Internet of Things (IoT) in enterprises and the latest trends in cloud computing analytics were also very intriguing.

All in all, Envitems had a great time at Slush this year. We look forward to putting all this enthusiasm and energy in our work.