My Air, My Health: An EPA/HHS Challenge


The Seeker wishes to enable location-specific, near-real-time monitoring and reporting of air pollutants (particulates or individual chemical species) and related physiological parameters, using a personal, portable integrated system. The intent is to use such devices to increase the level of information about local air quality, and to enable more conclusive analysis of links between air pollutant levels and their associated physiological effects.

Many of the first steps toward this future have already been taken. Prototype projects have developed portable air quality and physiologic sensors, and experimental analysis tools for handling data that is higher quantity, but often lower quality, than more traditional monitoring techniques. The “My Air, My Health Challenge” aims to build on this foundation. We are seeking solutions that integrate data from portable physiological and air quality monitors, producing a combined picture that is meaningful and usable. The statutory authority for this challenge competition is Section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Public L. No 111-358) and section 103 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7403. This challenge addresses the mission of the NIEHS to conduct and support programs with respect to factors in the environment that affect human health, directly or indirectly. 42 U.S.C. 285.

Many studies have documented links between air pollutants and physiological effects. Although the Seeker is open to any relevant coupling of air quality and physiological measures, some examples of relevant findings are summarized here.

The “My Air, My Health Challenge” is a multidisciplinary call to innovators and software developers (“Solvers”) to enable near-real-time, location-specific monitoring and reporting of air pollutants and potentially related physiological parameters, using a personal/ portable integrated system to assess connections between the two (“sensor systems”). The required system design must be capable of linking air pollutant concentrations with physiological data, providing geocoded and time-stamped files in an easy to use format, and transmitting this data via existing networks to a central data repository. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this challenge, solvers are highly encouraged to form teams drawing on multiple relevant expertise, either on their own or taking advantage of the InnoCentive Team Project Room functionality.

This Challenge is Phase 1 of a structured campaign. The Phase 1 requirements are summarized below:
-Identify one or more physiological measurements and airborne pollutants (chemical species and/or particulates) and propose a plausible link between them
-Provide evidence to support a plausible and physiologically meaningful relationship between the marker and pollutant in a defined population
-Propose a prototype design and development plan for an integrated multi-sensor and data management system, the components of which may be easily worn and/or carried by individuals within the defined target community/population
-Conceptualize data generation, management (may include processing & on-board storage), and transmission functionality of the device
-Propose a small-scale proof-of-concept study to validate the proposed prototype.
-Study design process must demonstrate input from the target community/ population

The Seeker believes that sensors and enabling technologies feasible for integration into the required device design are currently available or under development. Solvers will not be required to invent novel sensor technologies. It is also important to note that a prototype design is required and that the Seeker readily accepts that any prototype produced in the later invitational Challenge will require further development. A polished, ready to market product is not expected. Instead, the Seeker wishes to foster significant improvements over the state of the art.

Following the award decision, Phase I finalist teams will be invited to a workshop that will offer resources and guidance, for further developing their sensor systems. We are still working to gather the highest-impact contributors to this event, but it will likely include discussion of:
-Priorities and opportunities in portable sensors
-Best practices for meeting community needs with sensor projects
-Opportunities for securing investment

This event is intended not only to maximize the quality of Phase II submissions, but to support all finalists in effectively developing and marketing their products during and after the challenge.
-Data collection and transfer functionality is likely to form a critical part of both this Phase 1 Challenge and Phase 2 production of a prototype system. The Challenge Sponsors suggest that a typical transmitted data package might contain the following, but Solvers should design the data/metadata package content to suit the proposed use case, pollutant, sensor technologies and user population
-Device unique identifier (including information relevant to device-specific data collection constraints, such as those of a particular cell phone model) – bidirectional communication from/with the device is desired, but not mandatory
-Geo stamps – either device locations at sample acquisition start and end, or if appropriate, path information for full sample collection. Spatial resolution must be appropriate to pollutants and conditions of interest, as well as speed of collector
-Date/time stamps - sample acquisition start and end. Temporal resolution must be appropriate to pollutants and conditions of interest, as well as speed of collector
-Time stamp - sample data transmission
-Sample assay raw data (absolute values or score) – pollutant
-Sample assay raw data (absolute values or score) – phys. Marker
-Sample assay processed data (if data is processed on-board device) - pollutant, marker, or combined score

Phase I proposals will be evaluated by an expert panel of government scientists and thought leaders in the field of air quality research. This panel will score proposals in a blinded fashion using the Scoring System described in the "Evaluation" tab (found in the left-hand navigation tool).


Competition Organizer

ONC/Health 2.0

*Available in all states*

Submission Date


Awards Date


Total Prize Cash (US Dollars)


Competition Category
  • Graduate - All U.S.
  • Undergraduate - All U.S.
  • Business - All U.S.
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Technology - Other
  • Women or Minority-owned
  • Specialized Industries
  • Virtual/Online
Who's Eligible

To be eligible to win a prize under this challenge, an individual or entity: (a) Shall have registered to participate in the competition under the rules promulgated by Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology; (b) Shall have complied with all the requirements under this section; (c) In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, participating in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and 18 years old or older as of the time of entry; and (d) May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment. An individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the individual or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the competition on an equitable basis. Employees of Sponsor, Administrator, each of their affiliates, and/or any other individual or entity associated with the development, evaluation, or administration of the Challenge as well as members of such persons' immediate families (spouses, children, siblings, parents), and persons living in the same household as such persons, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in the Challenge.

Competition Prizes

Phase I Finalists (up to four) $15,000 each
Phase II Winner $100,000