From Air Quality Sensors to Sensor Networks: Things We Need to Learn

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Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical




As a potential complement to traditional regulatory instruments, low-cost air quality sensors (LCAQS) can be deployed in dense monitoring networks to provide timely and comprehensive snapshots of pollutant concentrations and their spatial and temporal variability at various scales with relatively less cost and labor. However, a lack of practical guidance and a limited understanding of sensor data quality hinder the widespread application of this emerging technology. We leveraged air quality data collected from state and local monitoring agencies in metropolitan areas of the United States to evaluate how low-cost sensors could be deployed across the U.S. We found that ozone, as a secondary pollutant, is more homogeneous than other pollutants at various scales. PM2.5, CO, and NO2 displayed homogeneities that varied by city, making it challenging to design a uniform network that was suitable across geographies. Our low-cost sensor data in New York City indicated that PM2.5 sensors track well with light-scattering reference methods, particularly at low concentrations. The same phenomenon was also found after thoroughly evaluating sensor evaluation reports from the Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC). Furthermore, LCAQS data collected during wildfire episodes in Portland, OR show that a real-time (i.e. in situ) machine learning calibration process is a promising approach to address the data quality challenges persisting in LCAQS applications. Our research highlights the urgency and importance of practical guidance for deploying LCAQS.


Air quality monitor network; Low-cost air quality sensors; Reference method; Sensor calibration


Multi-Vehicle Systems and Air Traffic Control

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