Via the Indoor Air Quality Association's e-newsletter, I ran across an article in Newsweek detailing a study undertaken in Dallas that claims the ability to predict, with 70% accuracy, asthma related emergency room visits from a key-word search on Twitter, as correlated with data on air pollution.
"The global Twitter data set available to the researchers consisted of nearly half a billion tweets, about 1.3 million of which contained asthma-related keywords. They narrowed that pool down to those that had location coordinates (35,152), and from there selected only those from the Dallas area (4,660). They did away with non-English tweets and any “that mentioned asthma in an irrelevant context,” the paper says."
With caveats, the article compares study with Google Flu Tracker, which seems to be able to predict flu outbreaks in close to real time, much faster than the CDC's database. Clearly, such information allows early and efficient deployment of everything from vaccines to emergency room staffs, to the benefit of all (save the occasional pathogen).
A large part of our focus, in providing commercial janitorial services to a wide variety of clients (not just health care facilities, but industrial and offices), it to improve health outcomes for our clients' staff and customers by improving (and measuring) indoor air quality. The HEPA filters, and the microfiber wipes and damp mops we use, target tiny particles, down to 0.3 microns in diameter, and so contain and allow us to remove form the facility allergens, as well as airborne bacteria, spores, pollen, and other baddies. In testing indoor air quality, we find we can generally cut daytime airborne particle count, in the size range of allergens, by around 50%, compared with standard equipment and methodologies. And, with the long hours we spend at work, what you inhale in the office is likely a major contributor to your health.
So, with luck, somewhat fewer of our clients will be tweeting about allergies and asthma.