Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center
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Science To Achieve Results

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

South Coast AQMD 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.

Educational Toolkit
In September 2021, South Coast AQMD published a guide on using air quality sensors "Community in Action: A Comprehensive Educational Toolkit on Air Quality Sensors". A key component of the Toolkit is an air sensor guidebook on air quality project planning, operating air quality sensors and understanding the data. Sensor installation guides, data analysis and visualization tools, infographics, and examples of reports and analysis produced by partner communities provide a complete package of educational material. Engaging training videos provide background information on air quality monitoring and sensor installation. The Toolkit was shaped through the collaborative effort with 14 different California communities over the past five years and the experience of deploying nearly 400 air quality sensors under a U.S. EPA Science To Achieve Results grant. These tools and resources will promote more effective and successful use of sensors, which will lead to increased education and awareness of air quality issues and ways to reduce exposure and emissions among the public.

Community Workshops

These presentations are generalized versions of the presentations used for each in-person community workshop and were used to communicate information and facilitate discussion. Slides were customized as needed for each community:

Sensor Installation and Use
These resources were developed to assist project participants with installing and using their sensors. The Installation Guide was continually revised based on feedback from community members. The Log Notes Form was intended to guide participants as they recorded their observations, observations that could help shed light on the data in the analysis and interpretation phase. Finally, the two surveys were intended to provide important contextual information regarding sensor installations and to help project leads improve sensor usability:

Workshop Surveys

These surveys were distributed during community workshops to gain a better understanding of participants' views on and experience using sensors. They can also be used to evaluate changes in participants' views over the course of a sensor deployment:

Data Analysis and Communicating Results

Project leads explored the use of different types of visualizations and approaches to sharing data. Printed infographics summarizing data analysis were well received by community members and project leads appreciated that they could easily share these summaries (an example is provided below). In addition to the development of the AirSensor package & DataViewer web applicationLink to external website., other resources were developed to support engagement with data by members of the public, such as the Data Analysis Guide below:

Reports and Resources Created by Partners and Community Participants

In addition to the analysis completed by project leads, there were several examples of community members undertaking their own data analysis or developing resources to support engagement with the data. Several of the reports are available below. There is also a link to a website developed by one STAR Grant participant; this website includes links educational information, data visualizations, and a link to python code developed by the participant to support analysis of the sensor data:

Publications and Thesis Reports

Contributing to the dissemination of results and lessons learned throughout the STAR Grant project, several peer-reviewed publications and a thesis were produced. More information on these products is available below:

  • “The AirSensor open-source R-package and DataViewer web application for interpreting community data collected by low-cost sensor networks”;
    Feenstra et al., 2020bLink to external website.
  • “Field and laboratory performance evaluations of 28 gas-phase air quality sensors by the AQ-SPEC program”; Collier-Oxandale et al., 2020Link to external website.
  • “Performance evaluation of twelve low-cost PM2.5 sensors at an ambient air monitoring site”; Feenstra et al., 2020aLink to external website.
  • “An analysis of effects of Woolsey Wildfire on UCLA University Village Air Quality using low-cost sensors”, Jia 2019Link to external website.
  • “Deliberating performance targets workshop: Potential paths for emerging PM2.5 and O3 air sensor progress”; Williams et al., 2018Link to external website.
  • “Air quality sensors and data adjustment algorithms: when is it no longer a measurement?”; Hagler et al., 2018Link to external website.
  • “Development of an environmental chamber for evaluating the performance of low-cost air quality sensors under controlled conditions”;
    Papapostolou et al., 2017Link to external website.

Conference Training Sessions
In addition to the community workshops, several trainings were offered at conferences. The materials presented at these trainings are available below:


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