Title

Applications of low-cost sensing technologies for air quality monitoring and exposure assessment: How far have they gone?

Authors

Lidia Morawska, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Phong K. Thai, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Xiaoting Liu, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Akwasi Asumadu-Sakyi, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Godwin Ayoko, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Alena Bartonova, Norwegian Institute for Air Research
Andrea Bedini
Fahe Chai, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, China
Bryce Christensen, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Matthew Dunbabin, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Jian Gao, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, China
Gayle SW Hagler, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA
Rohan Jayaratne, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Prashant Kumar, University of Surrey, UK
Alexis KH Lau, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Peter KK Louie, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, China
Mandana Mazaheri, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Zhi Ning, City University of Hong Kong
Nunzio Motta, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Ben Mullins, Curtin University, Australia
Md Mahmudur Rahman, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Zoran Ristovski, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Mahnaz Shafiei, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Dian Tjondronegoro, Southern Cross University, AustraliaFollow
Dane Westerdahl, City University of Hong Kong
Ron Williams, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Morawska, L, Tai, PK, Liu, X, Sumandu-Sakyi, A, Ayoko, G, Barnonova, A, Bedini, A, Chai, F, Christensen, B, Dunbabin, M, Gao, J, Hagler, GSW, Jayaratney, R, Kumar, P, Lau, AKH, Louie, PKK, Mazaheri, M, Ning, Z, Motta, N, Mullins, B, Rahman, MM, Ristovski, Z, Shafiei, M, Tjondronegoro, D, Westerdahl, D & Williams, R 2018, 'Applications of low-cost sensing technologies for air quality monitoring and exposure assessment: How far have they gone?', Environment International, vol. 116, pp. 286-299.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Over the past decade, a range of sensor technologies became available on the market, enabling a revolutionary shift in air pollution monitoring and assessment. With their cost of up to three orders of magnitude lower than standard/reference instruments, many avenues for applications have opened up. In particular, broader participation in air quality discussion and utilisation of information on air pollution by communities has become possible. However, many questions have been also asked about the actual benefits of these technologies. To address this issue, we conducted a comprehensive literature search including both the scientific and grey literature. We focused upon two questions: (1) Are these technologies fit for the various purposes envisaged? and (2) How far have these technologies and their applications progressed to provide answers and solutions? Regarding the former, we concluded that there is no clear answer to the question, due to a lack of: sensor/monitor manufacturers' quantitative specifications of performance, consensus regarding recommended end-use and associated minimal performance targets of these technologies, and the ability of the prospective users to formulate the requirements for their applications, or conditions of the intended use. Numerous studies have assessed and reported sensor/monitor performance under a range of specific conditions, and in many cases the performance was concluded to be satisfactory. The specific use cases for sensors/monitors included outdoor in a stationary mode, outdoor in a mobile mode, indoor environments and personal monitoring. Under certain conditions of application, project goals, and monitoring environments, some sensors/monitors were fit for a specific purpose. Based on analysis of 17 large projects, which reached applied outcome stage, and typically conducted by consortia of organizations, we observed that a sizable fraction of them (~ 30%) were commercial and/or crowd-funded. This fact by itself signals a paradigm change in air quality monitoring, which previously had been primarily implemented by government organizations. An additional paradigm-shift indicator is the growing use of machine learning or other advanced data processing approaches to improve sensor/monitor agreement with reference monitors. There is still some way to go in enhancing application of the technologies for source apportionment, which is of particular necessity and urgency in developing countries. Also, there has been somewhat less progress in wide-scale monitoring of personal exposures. However, it can be argued that with a significant future expansion of monitoring networks, including indoor environments, there may be less need for wearable or portable sensors/monitors to assess personal exposure. Traditional personal monitoring would still be valuable where spatial variability of pollutants of interest is at a finer resolution than the monitoring network can resolve.

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