Field Applications of Low-Cost Air Quality Monitors for PM 2.5 Studies
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Abstract Air pollution has become a pressing issue in today’s society because of its significant effects on humans, animals, plants, air quality, climate, and the wider environment. Most urban areas are associated with one or more air pollutants which are emitted from local or regional pollution sources including vehicle exhausts, fossil fuels using in energy production, emissions from industrial and mining activities, agricultural and construction operations, household usage of chemicals and materials, and natural causes. Most personal exposure studies are focused on local environments and short-term periods. Previous controlled experiments and studies were done in a small number of designated areas in cities. One of our research studies used time-based activity data; 3 main and 17 sub-microenvironments were applied over 37 days-long research while traveling through Southeast Asian countries. In this study, personal exposure of PM2.5 for a traveler was monitored using an assembled low-cost monitor with Plantower PMS 3003 PM2.5 sensor which has a light-scattering principle. All time-based activity data was recorded with a smartphone whenever microenvironments changed during the study period. The goal of this study was to understand more about the personal exposure to PM2.5 related air pollution in the global travel environment as a traveler and to understand how an individual’s activity and location impact PM2.5 exposure. Another study focused on deploying 10 low-cost monitors which had Plantower PMS 3003 PM2.5 sensors in different areas of Muscat, OMAN, includes both in indoor and outdoor microenvironments. This research was the first study used low-cost monitors to study the spatial distribution of PM2.5 concentrations in Muscat. In this study, having various PM2.5 concentration datasets helped us to understand the ambient pollution levels and personal exposure to PM2.5 related air pollution in Muscat, OMAN. According to the results from the Southeast Asia study, the personal PM2.5 exposure varied in the categorized microenvironments. Port/Station (outdoor) and Café/Pub/Restaurant (indoor-outdoor) were the most polluted microenvironments with 32.8 and 29.6 μg/m3 1-hour mean PM2.5 concentration, respectively. Market/Shopping Mall (indoor), Street (outdoor), and Cable Car/Metro/Tram (vehicle) were also concerning microenvironments with 19.3, 19.3, and 18.9 μg/m3 1-hour mean PM2.5 concentrations, respectively. Passenger Car microenvironment had the lowest 1-hour mean PM2.5 concentration of 2.3 μg/m3 which agrees with some other studies on transportation microenvironments in the literature. According to the results from the Muscat, OMAN study, 1-hour mean PM2.5 concentrations for all low-cost monitors ranged from 13.5 to 21.0 μg/m3 and the average 1-hour mean PM2.5 concentration was 17.4 μg/m3.