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Traffic exhaust to wildfires: PM2.5 measurements with fixed and portable, low-cost LoRaWAN-connected sensors

Author(s): Hugh Forehead, Johan Barthelemy, Bilal Arshad, Nicolas Verstaevel, Owen F. Price, Pascal Perez
Year Published: 2020

Air pollution with PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micro-metres in diameter) is a major health hazard in many cities worldwide, but since measuring instruments have traditionally been expensive, monitoring sites are rare and generally show only background concentrations. With the advent of low-cost, wirelessly connected sensors, air quality measurements are increasingly being made in places where many people spend time and pollution is much worse: on streets near traffic. In the interests of enabling members of the public to measure the air that they breathe, we took an open-source approach to designing a device for measuring PM2.5. Parts are relatively cheap, but of good quality and can be easily found in electronics or hardware stores, or on-line. Software is open source and the free LoRaWAN-based “The Things Network” the platform. A number of low-cost sensors we tested had problems, but those selected performed well when co-located with reference-quality instruments. A network of the devices was deployed in an urban centre, yielding valuable data for an extended time. Concentrations of PM2.5 at street level were often ten times worse than at air quality stations. The devices and network offer the opportunity for measurements in locations that concern the public.

Citation: Forehead, Hugh; Barthelemy, Johan; Arshad, Bilal; Verstaevel, Nicolas; Price, Owen; Perez, Pascal. 2020. Traffic exhaust to wildfires: PM2.5 measurements with fixed and portable, low-cost LoRaWAN-connected sensors. PLoS ONE 15(4):e0231778. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231778
Topic(s): Smoke & Air Quality, Smoke Emissions, Smoke Monitoring, Air Quality
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Hot Topic(s): Smoke and Human Health
NRFSN number: 21113
FRAMES RCS number: 61166
Record updated: May 5, 2020