Spatial and Temporal Trends of Air Pollutants in the South Coast Basin Using Low Cost Sensors

Summary

The emergence of small, portable, low-cost air sensors has encouraged a shift toward their use and away from traditional approaches to monitoring air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), in collaboration with the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC), deployed custom-built sensor devices (pods) measuring fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone (O3), relative humidity, and temperature at nine locations throughout southern California from January 2017 to April 2017 to evaluate their performance under "real-life" conditions. Prior to the deployment, these pods were evaluated within the AQ-SPEC program both in the field and in the laboratory. Southern California is an ideal testing location for air quality sensor technology, as it often experiences elevated air pollutant levels resulting from gasoline and diesel engines, marine ports, and various other industries. The South Coast Air Basin’s particular meteorology (frequent sunny days and little precipitation) and geography also contribute to the elevated pollution levels in the region. The goal of this project was to characterize the performance of these newly developed pods and better understand their potential applications for community monitoring. The report herein, summarizes the AQ-SPEC field and laboratory performance evaluations of the Citizen Science Air Monitor (CSAM) sensor pods designed and developed by the EPA. In addition, this document summarizes the spatial and temporal variability of the PM2.5 and O3 measurements collected during the field deployment of the CSAM pods at nine monitoring locations covering approximately a 200 km2 area in southern California.

SCAQMD CSAM Report to EPALink to external website.

Authors: 1Feenstra B., 1Papapostolou V. and 1Zhang H.
Reviewers: 1Polidori A., 2Vallano D., 2Duvall R. and 2Williams R.

1South Coast Air Quality Management District / Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC)
2U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Research Projects:

U.S. EPA STAR Grant: Engage, Educate and Empower California Communities on the Use and Applications of "Low-cost" Air Monitoring Sensors

 The AQ-SPEC program at the SCAQMD has been awarded a U.S. EPA STAR Grant to Engage, Educate, and Empower California Communities on the Use and Applications of “Low-cost” Air Monitoring Sensors Link to external website..


In collaboration with Sonoma TechnologyLink to external website. and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Link to external website., this study will provide local California communities with the knowledge necessary to appropriately select, use, and maintain “low-cost” air pollution sensors and to correctly interpret sensor data. After the air pollution sensors have been tested, six communities throughout California will be selected to use the sensors; researchers will specifically target communities in Environmental Justice areas and near specific sources of air pollution. Regular public meetings and other outreach activities will be organized to educate the public on the capabilities of commercially available sensors and their potential applications and limitations. The end points of the research will help governmental organizations and other policy makers to better understand air quality issues at the community level and to make better policy decisions to protect the public from the impacts of air pollution.

2016 Progress ReportLink to external website.

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