EPA Science Inventory

FINAL REPORT, USE OF 1) SENSORS AND 2)RADIO FREQUENCY ID (RFID) FOR THE NATIONAL CHILDREN'S STUDY

Citation:

SELEVAN, S. G. AND R. K. KWOK. FINAL REPORT, USE OF 1) SENSORS AND 2)RADIO FREQUENCY ID (RFID) FOR THE NATIONAL CHILDREN'S STUDY. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-05/018, 2005.

Description:

Recent advancements in technology have provided new tools that researchers can use to collect data more easily and reduce participant burden. In what ways will this new technology impact researchers and participants? Imagine a scenario where a small child is playing outside of his home in rural Nebraska. He plays some catch with his father, plays in the sprinkler with his brother, and rests in the sun for a few hours with his new puppy. Now imagine that child can be constantly monitored for respiratory variables related to asthma throughout his day without any effect on his lifestyle or that of those around him. Every breath, every cough, every activityeven his sleep quality can be continuously monitored. The child can be monitored because he is wearing a small physiological sensor embedded into his shirt. To him, this lightweight,< machine-washable garment doesnt feel any different than the rest of his clothes, but there is a difference. Each day, a wireless chip in the shirt stores respiratory measurements collected throughout the day and transmits these data to a wireless receiver in his home. If the data are normal, they can, for example, be sent to doctors or researchers at a university in New York over the Internet for analysis, without the boy ever having to leave his Nebraska home. Or, if the receiver registers information constituting a medical emergency, this emergency could trigger an alarm, which would dispatch a message to the local hospital using cellular lines. This example illustrates how the interaction between sensor technology, radio frequency technology, wireless networks, telephone and cellular lines, and the Internet enables investigators to constantly monitor different aspects of the physical world without ever leaving their desks, and without intruding on the lives of those they are most interested in studying. However, while the technology from this example is currently available, with advancements on current techniques and devices constantly being made, investigators should proceed cautiously. The applications of this technology sound promisingly relevant to the NCS, but investigators must carefully consider the strengths and limitations of the data collection environment, the data that are collected, and the sensors themselves before implementing these devices widely. Selecting the proper level of monitoring for the information obtained in the NCS is a task that can not be performed here. No one has considered monitoring body temperature on 100,000 subjects each minute for 20 years, a parameter that is technologically within reach today

with minimal burden on the participant. Would that flood of data contain within its depths some real indications of health effects, particularly as seasons change, pollutant episodes sweep across an area, or viral infections spread across the nation? RTI has no way of judging, and so this paper presents descriptions of possibilities and project how they might be used. 1-2 Most of the contaminants that are currently the focus of the NCS do not present< emergency health problems and do not require an emergency response. Because of the low concentrations of contaminants usually encountered, cumulative exposures are generally of greater concern than acute exposures, although acute exposures can trigger health responses such as asthma attacks. Sensors that give near real-time readings of contaminants are not particularly useful unless an acute response to the contaminant is expected. Sensors that measure physiological responses to contaminants accurately and selectively over periods of days to weeks would be more likely to provide dose (uptake) information without being burdensome. The use of this type of sensor in the private home would also benefit from networking technology. Consider a routine urinalysis capability. An automated message could alert a family that it is time for a specimen to be collected. Urine could be introduced to an analyzer that performs tests, which requires multiple steps and several minutes or time but operates unattendedand with minimal operator training. When the test is complete, the analyzer can use the network

to transmit the results without intervention. If test results are not received within a reasonable length of time, a participant would be notified a second time or tagged for a personal follow up. This smart data collection scenario is relatively straightforward to implement and can be broken down into two main components: the sensors themselves and the networks with which they communicate. The sensors gather data about the physical world, and the networks help to relay this information to the end user.

Purpose/Objective:

To describe possible new tools for collecting data in the National Children's Study and to project how they might be used.

URLs/Downloads:

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PUBLISHED REPORT/REPORT)
Start Date: 03/05/2005
Completion Date: 12/31/2005
Record Last Revised: 08/14/2008
Record Created: 01/27/2005
Record Released: 01/27/2005
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 114979

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

HUMAN STUDIES DIVISION

EPIDEMIOLOGY AND BIOMARKERS BRANCH