Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
March 16 — Initial results from an analysis of inexpensive personal air quality sensors suggest a high level of reliability and strong correlation in side-by-side field tests with more expensive, federally accepted air monitoring devices, a senior compliance officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) said March 16.
Mohsen Nazemi, deputy executive officer in SCAQMD’s Office of Engineering and Compliance, said the district's initial tests of ambient concentrations of gaseous and particle pollutants using personal air quality sensors suggest great promise for the emerging technology. Nazemi cautioned, however, that SCAQMD's assessments are “preliminary,” adding that his Los Angeles area air management district would like to pursue a series of pilot tests of the devices before reaching hard conclusions.
“There is tremendous potential for using these in various arenas. There are multiple applications—spacial, temporal. You can use it for fence line [monitoring]. You can also use it in regulatory, academia and citizen science contexts,” Nazemi said during a presentation at the National Association of Clean Air Agencies’ “Communicating Air Quality” conference in Chicago.
He added, “the only question is, how reliable and accurate are these sensors?”
The evaluations Nazemi discussed were performed under SCAQMD's Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC) program, the first program in the nation to scientifically evaluate the reliability, precision and quality of personal air quality sensors. The Environmental Protection Agency and state air quality agencies are expected to consider the results from the AQ-SPEC program if they integrate personal air quality sensors into their regulatory frameworks.
While the devices are expected to generate critical information about public exposure to air pollution, some industry groups and regulators have expressed concerns about the quality of the data generated. Many believe data quality gaps must be mastered before the devices are appropriate for regulatory decision making .
Nazemi said AQ-SPEC was launched in July 2014 with a $600,000 grant to evaluate the performance of commercially available air quality sensors in both field and laboratory environments. He said the project also hopes to influence the evolution and development of sensor technology.
Under the AQ-SPEC testing protocol, Nazemi said more than a dozen brands of sensors were operated side-by-side with Federal Reference Methods (FRM), Federal Equivalent Methods (FEM) air monitoring equipment. The project focused on various manufacturers of metal-oxide sensors, electrochemical sensors and optical sensors. The testing was conducted at the SCAQMD Rubidoux stationary ambient air monitoring station or at one of the district's roadway sites. Three of each brand's sensors were deployed in the field for two months and compared to FRM/FEM instruments.
Nazemi presented findings and approximate costs for four common sensors:
Joel Creswell, a science policy fellow in the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, said the EPA is closely watching AQ-SPEC's progress within the framework of its Advanced Monitoring project. Recognizing that new technologies could quickly revolutionize environmental compliance, he said the project would guide the EPA toward new protocols for efficiently monitoring air quality.
Cresswell noted, however, that testing projects such as AQ-SPEC still need to demonstrate the reliability of commonly available sensors prior to any changes in compliance protocols.
“The data quality of a lot of instruments is unknown,” Creswell said during the same NACAA panel discussion. “A low quality instrument creates two problems: 1) it could show a big problem where there isn’t and 2) it could miss a big problem where there is one.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Bologna in Chicago at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)