Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Air quality sensors for educational studies and community based atmospheric monitoring
Hom, John
Co-Authors: John Hom, Steve Roberts, and Matthew Patterson

Abstract: Low cost air quality sensors can be used for educational purposes as well as citizen science. The sensors and dataloggers have decreased in cost, but have limitations in terms of measurement resolution. There are more ways for sharing the data, identify the location monitored and sending information to an i/o database for real time display and analysis. This poster compares the usefulness of some low cost commercial and custom sensors in terms of resolution, support, maintenance and calibration in comparison to reference systems. Agencies such as EPA has recognized the utility of low cost atmospheric sensors. They have held workshops and published evaluations of low cost air sensors, and there is public access to real time monitoring such as the Village Green Project in several cities such as Philadelphia. These sensors are mid-tier designs that have higher resolution than most citizen science sensors but are not as accurate as reference quality monitors used in research. They perform as a spatial network when calibrated against standard gases and reference monitors. There are currently prizes for sensor systems to measure air pollution during wildland fires (EPA) and Smart City Air Challenges (EPA). An example of such a portable air quality sensor package that can be used for urban air quality work and for wildland fires is described and data quality is compared.