Theses Doctoral

Assessing the Role of Mobile Device Applications as an Educational Tool for Increasing Knowledge and Awareness of Volatile Organic Compound Exposure

Ardouin-Guerrier, Mary-Andree M.

Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has critical health implications for developing fetuses and subsequently for infants and young children. Research has suggested that this ambient air pollutant can be found indoors in quantities that may be hazardous to human health. In low-income neighborhoods in New York City such as northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, where there are disproportionately high rates of asthma and asthma-related hospitalizations, high rates of indoor exposure to VOCs persist. Simultaneously, as mobile devices expand, applications on mobile devices may be used to educate parents of children who reside in these geographic regions about indoor VOC emission sources and subsequently how to reduce exposure.Therefore, this study sought to assess the role of mobile device applications in reducing household VOCs by assessing the feasibility of existing health applications on both Apple and Android OS mobile devices without the use of a household air monitoring unit. An online survey assessed awareness of VOCs and identified knowledge of both emission sources and reduction methods of household VOCs among a sample of (N = 57) parents/guardians residing in the Northern Manhattan and Southern Bronx regions with children under the age of 5. A series of focus groups were conducted among a subset of participants to assess the adaptability of a mobile application prototype that specifically targets the reduction of VOCs. Lastly, a preliminary mobile device application mockup was created with potential features.

The key findings of this study included the following: (a) the author identified no existing mobile device applications that could be utilized as a method for VOC reduction without the use of a physical in-home air monitor; (b) while parents had some baseline awareness of VOCs, there were gaps within their knowledge of VOCs, particularly with emission sources; (c) the feasibility of this proposed application as a potential source of intervention for indoor VOC mitigation was apparent through parent willingness to explore its possible use, while providing ample recommendations for optimal mobile device application design; and (d) the exploratory mockup of the proposed mobile device application was generated with suggested features.


  • thumnail for ArdouinGuerrier_tc.columbia_0055E_11164.pdf ArdouinGuerrier_tc.columbia_0055E_11164.pdf application/pdf 1.36 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Rajan, Sonali
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 2, 2021