SCIENTISTS based in Ludgershall are seeking participants for a series of studies aimed at developing a ‘life-saving’ app which will detect carbon monoxide exposure.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire hope to contribute to global improvements to detection of the deadly gas.

Explaining the purpose of the app, head of toxicology Professor Rob Chilcott told the Advertiser: “Carbon monoxide is a killer. Every year, we hear of people dying. What’s less well-known is that it hospitalises about 4,000 people a year in the UK alone. So it’s a bit of a hidden issue.

“There are so many potential sources in houses, and we can have detectors but not many people have them. For lots of people, the battery has run out, and if they aren’t in the right place, they won’t detect it anyway.”

He continued: “Going forward a few years, we will have a phone app which will shine light in your eyes and detect whether you have had a sustained exposure to carbon monoxide.

“Before we can get to the stage of having a fancy app, we have to do a series of basic studies.

“At the moment we are doing them without exposure to carbon monoxide. The next stage will involve very low levels of carbon monoxide.”

Reassuring people of the safety of the studies, he added: “If you look at the dose that will be given, it will be no different to walking up the high street during rush hour!

“It will enable us to see if we can see a change in the light in the eyes. We are also looking at how different people, of different ages, react.”

The study is open to anyone from aged 18 to in their 70s, with a total of around 150 volunteers needed over three studies.

Professor Chilcott stressed that local people who get involved would be contributing to a potentially history-changing piece of scientific research with international reach.

He said: “If you look at the global picture, and countries where detectors may not be available, we could be talking about hundreds of thousands of lives.”

Volunteers for the project, which is being sponsored by the carbon monoxide research trust, will be given gift vouchers to compensate for their time (£25 for the first study, £150 each for studies two and three), with study sessions lasting approximately an hour at a time. However, the team is not able to take volunteers who smoke, as their background carbon monoxide levels would be much higher.

Anyone interested in finding out more should email or call 01264 513 276 to get a volunteer information pack which explains the studies in more detail.