Rubber band: Office supply or air monitor? Yes.

Rubber band: Office supply or air monitor? Yes.
The humble rubber band once served as a primitive air-monitoring tool in the early days of air pollution control.

The rubber band can serve countless purposes. Among them, it once was a tool to help understand the air we breathe.

The humble office supply was once used as an informal method of measuring ground-level ozone pollution.

In the early days of air pollution control, testing air quality was a long and laborious process. It often required several days to test a sample and get a measurement of pollutants. The burdensome process didn’t let people know just how bad the air was in real time. 

Eventually, an unofficial testing methodology for ground-level ozone arose. An engineer would open a new bag of rubber bands, open the window and leave a few on the windowsill for a couple of hours. They’d later examine the condition of the rubber bands and get a rough idea of the ozone concentration based upon the deterioration.  It wasn’t an exact science, but it did give an indication.

Next time you see a rubber band, you’re not seeing merely a rubber band. It’s an old-fashioned, personal, portable ozone monitor!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *