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Given dramatic improvements in the quality and cost of sensors over the last decade, environmental agencies have an opportunity to improve air monitoring and strategically conserve resources. It is thus helpful for states and tribes to understand the quality of the data provided by low-cost sensors and to learn from firsthand user experiences.

With support from the E-Enterprise Advanced Monitoring Strategy & Implementation Team, EPA has issued two reports with recommended guidelines to evaluate the performance of ozone and fine particulate matter low-cost air sensors. EPA has also released a correction factor that can be applied to data collected from PurpleAir sensors. These resources, and much more, can be found on EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox webpage.

In addition, ECOS is updating the Advanced Monitoring Scan and Screen Network and Technology Clearinghouse developed by the E-Enterprise Advanced Monitoring Strategy & Implementation Team to enable state and tribal staff to better leverage their knowledge and experience regarding low-cost devices. The clearinghouse, available on the E-Enterprise Community Inventory Platform, provides a common forum for state and tribal staff to list the low-cost sensors with which they have experience, as well as points of contact. It aims to facilitate connections among state and tribal peers and is not intended to endorse or discourage the use of any particular technology. As the resource continues to expand, information from local air agencies and tribal agencies, and from water programs at the state, local, and tribal levels, will also be included.

Certain state low-cost sensors listed on clearinghouse are featured as standalone projects on EECIP, including:

  • The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has launched an effort to use low-cost sensors in addition to federally verified sensors to measure air quality in environmental justice (EJ) communities. By placing ten low-cost sensors in an EJ community in addition to a federally verified monitoring station, Massachusetts is able to provide more localized and timely scientific data to communities (see related article below).
  • The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has developed its own low-cost air quality SensOR™ to allow the agency to provide timely air quality information at more locations throughout the state. Oregon received funding from the Oregon Legislature to add 30 fine particulate matter monitoring sites around the state. In order to expand these sites as economically as possible, the agency built and programmed its own low-cost modules.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources air program has developed resources for citizen scientists to get involved in the tracking and reporting of air quality information using low-cost air quality sensors. Wisconsin has also developed a correction factor for PurpleAir Sensors that is specific to Wisconsin’s climate.
  • The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation’s Division of Air Pollution Control is actively researching the utility of small sensor technologies for air quality characterization. In order to respond effectively to third-party data when necessary and maintain public confidence in the agency‘s authority and expertise on air quality, Tennessee is working to learn more about the benefits and limitations of low-cost sensors.

If you are interested in adding your information to the clearinghouse or highlighting a state project in EECIP, please contact Kelly Poole of ECOS.