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Low Cost Air Quality Sensor Deployment and Citizen Science: The Peñuelas Project
* 1 , 2 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 6 , 6 , 7
1  ORISE Intern hosted by US EPA Air, Climate, and Energy (ACE) Research Program.
2  US EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL), Research Triangle Park, NC
3  US EPA Region 2 Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, Guaynabo, PR
4  US EPA Region 2, New York, NY
5  US EPA Region 2, Edison, NJ
6  Desarrollo Integral del Sur, Inc. (DISUR), Ponce, PR
7  Jacobs Technology, Inc, Research Triangle Park, NC

Published: 15 November 2017 by MDPI in 4th International Electronic Conference on Sensors and Applications session Posters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Desarrollo Integral del Sur, Inc (DISUR), a Puerto Rico-based community action group, collaborated to determine the efficacy of citizen science involving the use of low cost air quality sensors. The EPA developed a unique low cost AC powered multi-pollutant Citizen Science Air Monitor (CSAM) that was provided to the community group along with the training/tools needed for its operation. The citizens self-organized a community effort to conduct approximately five months of intensive air quality monitoring in an area of Puerto Rico (Tallaboa-Encarnación, Peñuelas) having little historical data on spatial variability (Ponce). Real-time measurements of the particulate matter size fraction 2.5 micron (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), total volatile organic compounds (tVOCs), and meteorological parameters (wind speed, wind directions, temperature, relative humidity) were obtained. The study provided the Peñuelas and surrounding communities an in-depth investigation of local air quality and opportunities for citizen scientists to gain extensive experience in the use of emerging sensor technologies. The collaboration also provided the EPA an opportunity to evaluate low cost sensor performance under harsh environmental conditions (high relative humidity in a coastal environment). We present the approach and preliminary environmental findings of the EPA’s efforts the deploy a low cost multi-pollutant sensor pod associated with a citizen science research study. 

Keywords: air quality, sensors, low cost, citizen science, EPA
Comments on this paper
Hugo Avila-Paredes
some questions
Dear authors,
This is an interesting project. Hope I didn´t overlook some information. I got some questions:
1. What was the price of the CSAM and how is it compared to other commercially available systems?

2. Why were there two types of CSAM (one that could measure the concentration of NO2) used?
3. I understood that some measurements failed when the relative humidity was quite high. Wouldn´t this be a limitation of the system to be used at the selected location?

4. Are there any limitations of the sensors related to detecting either very low or very high concentrations of pollutants?
Thanks in advance.