Question: Using PurpleAir Sensor to monitor neighbour's second hand smoke

shmoo is asking a question about purpleair
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by shmoo | October 27, 2020 12:28 | #24823

My two adult neighbours smoke outside their property daily (on and off between 5am - 9pm) and within 3 to 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) of my balcony door/windows.

I've asked them politely to smoke at the front of their property but they refuse.

As a result I often had the doors and windows on the main side of my home shut (for hours at a time) do avoid the second hand smoke.

I want to build a case against them to take to the council that would detail the times (and perhaps measurements) of their regular smoking between 5am - 9pm - 7 days a week.

Can anybody provide feedback whether or not a PurpleAir Sensor (via PM 2.5) would be suitable to detect second hand smoke (outside) within 3 to 6 metres (10 to 20 feet) of the sensor (please mention if you think 6 metres might NOT be detected)

FYI - at both 3 to 6 metres I can smell the smoke but whether or not the sensor would show a spike in the PM 2.5 readings is the unknown.

Thanks in advance!


Hi @shmoo, great to hear from you. Sorry to hear you are having these air quality impacts. Neighbor relationships and lifestyle differences are really hard. For sure. A question and then an idea: Question: do you mean Purple Air sensor? Idea: work in public to show how you are building the equipment with the blinky lights to your neighbors, and show how the smoke affects the lights. To the extent possible, go out of your way to relate differently to your neighbors to make this a project that builds a bridge instead of a project that generates battle argumentation neighbor-vs-neighbor. Bringing in authorities is likely to make them double-down instead of being open to behavioral change -- something that the council, who will not be setting up constant surveillance on your block, will not actually be able to achieve through any legal or enforcement action. Happy to keep brainstorming here with you.

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Hi Liz,

Thank you for your comment.

Yes, you are correct. I meant PurpleAir rather than Pure Air, well spotted.

I tried 3 times to politely chat to my neighbor about the issue (over a period of 6 months) and on the third occasion he blatantly told me "It's my home, I can smoke when and where I want".

I have also tried to think of other methods to communicate the extend of this problem using the PurpleAir sensor (if it can show a detectable change in air quality during when they smoke).

One idea was to send them an email once a week/month highlighting the spikes in air quality that is caused by their smoking. However, I don't believe it will make a difference as they don't care that the smoke is causing me an issue and simply believe I should shut down doors/windows if I don't like it.

Will keep trying to think of a way to resolve this issue.


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