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World Champion Australian cyclist explores relationship between breathing clean air and wellbeing, using Dyson’s wearable air monitoring technology

Dyson today revealed a global project it has been undertaking around the world, working with six athletes to help educate them on their exposure to air pollution and its potential impact on wellbeing and performance.

Download Annette's data findings here

Australia, 23 June 2021: Adelaide-based three-time World Champion cyclist Annette Edmondson is one of six athletes around the world, who are heading to the world’s largest sporting event this summer, and have been working with Dyson over the last few months as part of a research project to explore how air quality can impact wellbeing.

The athletes – Annette Edmondson (Australia), Thomas Röhler (Germany), Shingo Suetsugu (Japan), Dafne Schippers (Netherlands), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia), and Mujinga Kambundji (Switzerland) – participated in Dyson’s wearable air monitoring technology project. They used Dyson’s prototype air quality backpack for a period of four days, using it all day long while completing different activities, to collect data to track their personal exposure to air pollution.

Dyson scientists initiated the project to explore how exposure could affect athletic performance. Re-working existing technology used in Dyson purifiers, the Dyson air quality backpack is a portable air-sensing device. Armed with on-board sensors, a battery pack and GPS, it is able to measure pollution data on the move.

  • Alex Knox, Vice President of Environmental Care at Dyson said:

    “In line with improving public understanding of air pollution, we are continuing our research in air quality by extending this backpack project to athletes. Equipping these athletes with data about their air quality will empower them to take control of their pollution exposure. We are focused on meaningful action in terms of education and awareness and working with athletes as advocates can help us achieve that.”

  • Professor of Global Environmental Health, Sotiris Vardoulakis, at the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Population Health, is a leading expert in air quality and indoor pollution added:

    “We’re often exposed to many different types of both indoor and outdoor air pollution and the health effects of different pollutants can depend on the individual. Certain groups may be particularly sensitive to the effects of air pollutants, including people who exercise strenuously, as rapid breathing increases our intake of air, as well as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and one in nine Australians who suffer from respiratory health conditions such as asthma, hay fever or bronchitis.”

  • Annette Edmondson in veledrome with Dyson air quality backpack

  • Annette Edmondson cycling with Dyson air quality backpack

Three-time World Champion and Australian cyclist Annette Edmondson said:

"As an athlete who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, a healthy lifestyle is so important to me, however air quality is not something I’ve ever looked into. I’ve been using Dyson’s prototype air quality backpack to understand how air pollution can impact my wellbeing and performance, especially as I go on to the biggest competition this year in July. I’m now much more aware of my air quality and how to take control of it.”

Data findings

Dyson engineers analysed the findings from Annette’s time wearing the backpack by pairing the air sensor and GPS data with the diary entries she made to document her activities and observations. Whilst wearing the backpack, Annette cycled around Adelaide city and surrounds, visited a local furniture store, and also undertook activities at home, including cooking, cleaning and renovating.

    • Annette cycles both indoors and outdoors as part of her training regime. When riding through heavy peak hour traffic in the centre of Adelaide, there were spikes in NO2 and PM2.5. This is unsurprising as these are pollutants commonly associated with vehicle emissions as well as brake and tyre wear.
    • She completed the same trip outside of peak hour, which saw a steady decline in these pollutants, resulting in less exposure.
    • After training, Annette refueled by cooking a stir fry at home, resulting in an increase in both NO2 and VOC levels. The NO2 may have been a result of cooking using a gas stove, with minimal ventilation, while the VOC increase was likely a result of using cleaning products after.
    • Annette also used the backpack whilst painting her home, and shopping for new furniture - in fact, a trip to a local flat pack store saw a significant spike in both PM2.5 and VOCs. This could have been attributed to formaldehyde, which is a common VOC found in paints, wood and furniture.

When asked about the impact of Dyson’s findings, Annette Edmondson said:

“I’ve often thought about pollution whilst out riding - whether it’s a bus pulling out in front of me, or heavy peak hour traffic. Seeing this data has made me realise how bad the air quality can be to train in. It has got me thinking about not only where I ride, but when. I’ll definitely try to take a greener route in the future to avoid those busy roads.
That being said, one of the most shocking parts about the project was seeing just how bad the levels were inside the home. Using Dyson’s air quality backpack and my Dyson purifier has made the invisible visible, and it was disturbing to see them detecting pollutants while cooking, painting or unpacking new furniture."

The air quality backpack was initially developed by Dyson engineers for the Breathe London study with Kings College London and the Greater London Authority. Engineers designed the portable air monitoring device to be smaller and reflect existing sensing technology used in Dyson air purifiers, whilst still accurately capturing PM2.5, PM10 and VOC and NO2 exposure.

Discover more about Dyson’s wearable air monitoring technology projects

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    Dyson measures Sydney-based mum’s daily exposure to air pollution using Dyson’s prototype air quality backpack

  • Mujinga Kambundji sitting on gym floor

    Dyson investigates the effect of lockdown on air pollution

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