How’s the air there? Monitors detect when a breath isn’t so fresh

Phil Castle The Business Times

Jarad Usher

Jarad Usher used to live in Beijing, so he knows from personal experience the effects of poor air quality.

His eyes burned, he donned a face mask — well before the coronavirus pandemic made them de rigueur — and had to carefully consider whether or not to venture outside.

Fast forward to August, and conditions in the Grand Valley became nearly as bad while the nearby Pine Gulf Fire scorched more than 200 square miles.

The difference was Usher knew exactly how bad in using a portable air quality monitor he’s developed.

That knowledge is even more important, he said, in the midst of a pandemic when people spend more time indoors and particularly for those with respiratory conditions that make them more vulnerable to poor air quality. “It’s needed, especially for susceptible groups.”

An Element Pura portable air quality monitor measures fine particulates, carbon dioxide and formaldehyde as well as temperature and humidity. (Photo courtesy Element Pura)

Usher founded Element Pura. The Grand Junction-based company sells air quality monitors as well as face masks and filters for the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines used to help people breath more easily during sleep.

Usher sells products online through his website as well as through a collaboration with ProSpace Interiors, an office furnishings and design firm with offices in Grand Junction and Delta.

Usher brings to the venture his experience working in the tech industry with business development and digital marketing.

Element Pura air quality monitors measure particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in width — about 30 times smaller than that of a human hair.

Particles that small can get deep into the lungs and cause short- and long-term health effects, Usher said. Those effects can include everything from nose and throat irritation and headaches to aggravated asthma and emphysema.

Particulate matter can come from a variety of sources, he said, including agricultural burning, dust storms, household pollutants and vehicle emissions — not to mention wildfires.

The air quality monitors also measure formaldehyde, a compound used in a variety of household products and building materials that can cause asthma-like respiratory problems. “It’s in a lot of different stuff and it can be harmful,” Usher said.

In addition, the monitors measure carbon dioxide. While low concentrations aren’t harmful, higher concentrations can affect respiratory function.

The color of the readouts on the monitors changes along with the conditions from green and excellent air quality to purple and poor quality. Readings show measurements in real time, but also track measurements over time.

The monitors are easy to use, Usher said. Moreover, they’re portable, he said, and be set up in any room in a home, taken to the office or a hotel or used in a car.

The monitors are useful for measuring air quality and signaling when precautions could be necessary — closing windows, using air filters or avoiding strenuous activity, for example.

The monitors also assure air filters or other purification systems are working correctly, he said. “It can give you peace of mind as well.”

The objective, he said, is to help customers breathe easier — whether they live in China or Western Colorado. “It makes me feel good to provide products that are helping people.”

For more information about Element Pura portable air monitors and other products, visit