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Low-cost mobile air pollution monitoring in urban environments: a pilot study in Lubbock, Texas.

  • Author(s): McKercher, Grant R
  • Vanos, Jennifer K
  • et al.
Abstract

The complex nature of air pollution in urban areas prevents traditional monitoring techniques from obtaining measurements representative of true human exposure. The current study assessed the capability of low-cost mobile monitors to acquire useful data in a city without a monitoring network in place (Lubbock, Texas) using a bicycle platform. The monitoring campaign resulted in 30 days of data along a 13.4 km fixed concentric route. Due to high sensitivities to airflow, the apparent wind velocity was accounted for throughout the route. The data were also normalized into percentiles in order to visualize spatial patterns. The highest estimated pollution levels were located near frequently busy intersections and roads; however, sensor issues resulted in lower confidence. Additional research is needed concerning the appropriate use of low-cost metal oxide sensors for citizen science applications, as measurements can be misleading if the user is unaware of sensors specifications. The simultaneous use of several low-cost mobile platforms, rather than a single platform, as well as the use of high-end cases, are recommended to create a more robust spatial analysis. The issues addressed from this research are important to understand for accurate and beneficial application of low-cost gaseous monitors for citizen science.

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