Sarita Ahlawat holds up her startup Living Sciences’ air quality monitor against a cold, grey December sky. Its PM 10 reading—particulate matter measured in micrograms—flickers before settling on 263. As we carry it out of her office, to the foyer, and then to the balcony, the reading fluctuates, before it finally settles at 313. According to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), we’re breathing in “very poor” air.
“Ideally, we shouldn’t even be sitting in this room,” she says. All around her are students who help her manufacture and collect data from low-cost air quality monitors.