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Long-term field comparison of multiple low-cost particulate matter sensors in an outdoor urban environment

Bulot, Florentin M. J.; Johnston, Steven J.; Basford, Philip J.; Easton, Natasha H. C.; Apetroaie-Cristea, Mihaela; Foster, Gavin L.; Morris, Andrew K. R.; Cox, Simon J.; Loxham, Matthew. 2019 Long-term field comparison of multiple low-cost particulate matter sensors in an outdoor urban environment. Scientific Reports, 9 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43716-3

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Abstract/Summary

Exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) air pollution is a leading risk factor for morbidity and mortality, associated with up to 8.9 million deaths/year worldwide. Measurement of personal exposure to PM is hindered by poor spatial resolution of monitoring networks. Low-cost PM sensors may improve monitoring resolution in a cost-effective manner but there are doubts regarding data reliability. PM sensor boxes were constructed using four low-cost PM micro-sensor models. Three boxes were deployed at each of two schools in Southampton, UK, for around one year and sensor performance was analysed. Comparison of sensor readings with a nearby background station showed moderate to good correlation (0.61 < r < 0.88, p < 0.0001), but indicated that low-cost sensor performance varies with different PM sources and background concentrations, and to a lesser extent relative humidity and temperature. This may have implications for their potential use in different locations. Data also indicates that these sensors can track short-lived events of pollution, especially in conjunction with wind data. We conclude that, with appropriate consideration of potential confounding factors, low-cost PM sensors may be suitable for PM monitoring where reference-standard equipment is not available or feasible, and that they may be useful in studying spatially localised airborne PM concentrations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43716-3
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 05 Jun 2019 14:36 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/523680

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