Applications of Low-Cost Sensors in Air Quality Measurement

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There are many diverse roles for air quality measurements. These include protection of public health, monitoring compliance with air quality standards and objectives, identification of sources, evaluation of trends, and research into atmospheric processes. Typically, in the past, monitoring networks were normally comprised of high grade instruments designed to measure with the high levels of accuracy and precision required to comply with the protocols set for statutory monitoring.  As such instruments were built to meet exacting standards, they were inevitable expensive, and deployments were hence typically at low spatial density.

Over the past decade or so, automatic instruments of greater simplicity and lower cost have come onto the market. These are typically of lower accuracy and precision than the high grade instruments used in statutory networks, and cannot meet the technical specifications required for those networks. They can, however satisfy several of the other applications of air quality measurements, and have the advantage that their lower cost allows them to be deployed at greater spatial density. This high density of deployment can yield insights not available from a low density network, and measurements from some of the more sophisticated low cost devices are being used in other applications, such as receptor modelling for source apportionment.

Through this Collection, we are seeking to illustrate the capabilities and applications, as well as recognising some of the limitations, of low cost air quality sensors, with a view to guiding potential users and stimulating adoption for new and existing applications in which they can offer distinct advantages.

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