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Air Quality

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Outdoor air pollution, in the most extreme cases, can be immediately identified even without any special training. It casts a haze over cities, collects on streets and buildings, and provides dramatic fodder for the news. But while high drama is often a prerequisite for news about air quality to be reported, the real story is the health impacts that occur even when the air isn't thick enough to see.

Lead image from @eustatic's work

Introduction

According to the EPA, Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Most pollutants affecting indoor air quality come from sources inside buildings, although some originate outdoors. Typical pollutants of concern include combustion products such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and environmental tobacco smoke; substances of natural origin such as radon; biological agents such as molds; pesticides; lead; asbestos; ozone (from some air cleaners); and various volatile organic compounds from a variety of products and materials.

This is even more striking when the health effects attributed to outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) rank among the risk factors with the highest health impacts in the world, annually accounting for over 3.2 million premature deaths. In October 2013, the World Health Organization announced they are considering particulate matter, a major component of indoor and outdoor air pollution, as a Group 1 carcinogen along with tobacco smoke and asbestos.

For more, see this excellent overview by Toxics Action Center

Example Air Pollution Regulations in Wisconsin:

VIOLATIONS RELEVANT PROVISION
Air pollution which is defined as the presence of smoke, dust, gases, fumes in the air. The presence of these substances must also lead to injury on humans, animals or plants as well as interfere with the enjoyment of life or one's property. NR 400.02
Fugitive dust. This refers to the presence in the air of dust from sources such as open fields and piles. There will be a violation on air quality when during handling, transporting and storing of materials, the people undertaking these activities do not take precaution and some of these materials end up being released into the air. NR 415.04
Causing, allowing or permitting solid or liquid hazardous substances into the air. This includes dust, soot, pollen, smoke and liquid droplets. One can spot that violation by simply observing the ambient air. NR. 415.05
Industrial sand mines that do not take precautions to ensure dust does not escape into the air. NR 415.075

Subtopics

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Introduction to Particulate Matter about 1 month ago by stevie 90 2,793 7
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter about 2 months ago by stevie 24 2,242 4
Odor Logging 6 months ago by liz 31 737 3
Filters about 1 year ago by warren 11 124 2
Air Sensors over 1 year ago by warren 11 616 1
PM Tools over 1 year ago by warren 3 97 0
Particle Sensing almost 2 years ago by warren 25 2,218 5
Silica Monitoring about 2 years ago by warren 14 3,628 4
Dust Sampling over 2 years ago by warren 4 229 1


Questions

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Can you blur the location of a Purple Air device? @stevie 23 days ago 3
Does anyone have experience assembling low-cost VOC kits using Adafruit’s VOC sensor? @stevie 29 days ago 8
Are there examples where environmental concerns were addressed as a result of people filing complaints (or suspected permit violations)? @stevie about 2 months ago 7
Do you really need a special filter to filter out ultrafine particulates in the air? @BostonFern about 2 months ago 3
Vape detector @Ryanwest 4 months ago 6
What are the health impacts of the Aluf Plastics Plant from air pollution? @stevie 4 months ago 6
How do we keep the pressure and momentum high after a recent court ruling win? @stevie 4 months ago 2
What are air testing labs or companies we can recommend to our town board that our community can trust? @stevie 4 months ago 3
Is there a way to make a cheaper "UV Hound"? @liz 5 months ago 13
SPS30 instead of PlanTower units? @subir 6 months ago 4
Which sensor is the best to use it during cycling? @niklasjordan 7 months ago 2
Who are the environmental organizations that do air quality monitoring in Deer Park Texas? @stevie 7 months ago 1
How we can do our own air quality monitoring in Deer Park Texas? @stevie 7 months ago 0
combining code for PMS7003 into Aircasting code @vinushi1995 8 months ago 2
What are indoor air quality concerns related to nail salons? @stevie 8 months ago 8
PMS7003 with Arduino MEGA2560 @vinushi1995 8 months ago 3
How can I start a project on environmental air quality around crop dusting areas @lubcarreon 9 months ago 7
What is the correct AQI measure ? @sagarpreet 12 months ago 22
How to interpret PMS5003 sensor values? @samr 12 months ago 10
Is there a predictive relationship between the number of PM 2.5 and smaller airborne particulates compared to the mass of the same ug per cubic meter? @Tomp 12 months ago 5
Where can diffusion tubes for detecting nitrogen dioxide be found in different parts of the world? @warren about 1 year ago 3
Seeking sources of local wind/weather data @warren about 1 year ago 3
How to start air monitoring project? @shannonkmcalpine about 1 year ago 9
Building a case against Aluf Plastics -- polluting my town & I need help @michaelwma over 1 year ago 9
What do we know about EPA National Emissions Inventory (NEI) data? @warren over 1 year ago 0
How can we connect a PMS5003 dust sensor to an Arduino? @warren over 1 year ago 14
Can biosolids promote certain types of mold growth in buildings? @zengirl2 over 1 year ago 0
Low-cost air quality sensors to measure PM2.5, PM10? @bigmit37 over 1 year ago 9
Air quality balloons - an updated version? @cindy_excites over 1 year ago 8
Is there someone who can help pull and analyze Purple Air data? @stevie almost 2 years ago 9
Looking for hands-on help with a datalogger! @Bronwen almost 2 years ago 6
Can MiniVol (TAS Particulate Matter Monitor) measure Black Carbon or Elemental Carbon? @stevie almost 2 years ago 2
Hey @matthew I am trying to build same PPM kit you guys have here. Where did you guys get the sampler stub? @Matej almost 2 years ago 2
what data-logger will work with my portable HCHO meter? @nshapiro almost 2 years ago 44
Lego Spectrometer suitable for studying sunlight? @jsbonillam about 2 years ago 12
3 particle type @Ag8n about 2 years ago 0
What are good humidity sensor/monitors to use with gas sampling kits? @gretchengehrke about 2 years ago 2
Anyone in Ontario working on ultrafine particle pollution? @liz about 2 years ago 0
What are different ways to collect respirable dust samples for analysis? @warren about 2 years ago 3
What kind of Framework for Participatory PM2.5 can be used for creating monitoring cities? @stevie about 2 years ago 0
What is the best way to take a sample of snow to look for particulates? @stevie over 2 years ago 3
What are ways to make DIY filters to remove particulate pollution from indoor air? @zengirl2 over 2 years ago 12
What are some ways to collect dust or particulate samples for analysis? @warren over 2 years ago 4
Training in odor identification? @sara over 2 years ago 1
How do I choose between different types of air canisters for grab sampling? @stevie over 2 years ago 0
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke over 2 years ago 1
Methods for or experience measuring workplace hydrogen sulfide gas? @gretchengehrke over 2 years ago 2
What type of health issues are associated with inhalation of ultrafine particles? @liz over 2 years ago 2
What do the terms attainment and nonattainment mean? @liz over 2 years ago 2
How do you account for signal drift with sensors in the field? @gretchengehrke over 2 years ago 2
Do you have resources on odor logs and odor reporting platforms? @gretchengehrke over 2 years ago 7
What are the health effects related to fine particles of calcium carbonate? @stevie almost 3 years ago 8
AERMOD: Is it a good model? How has it been tested and verified? @marlokeno over 3 years ago 0
lightweight air quality sensors for a weather balloon @glenc over 3 years ago 2
What kind/size of microdust does activated carbon give off & how much of a concern is it? @jfrankamp over 3 years ago 2
In the plant based air purifier, could airflow go the other way, using an unmodified pump? @warren over 3 years ago 9
How can i know if my plant-based air filter is working? @liz over 3 years ago 5
Is CALPUFF a good air quality modeling tool @marlokeno over 3 years ago 4
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Activities

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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Particle Sensor Projects

Public Lab has initiated a Particle Sensing Project focused primarily on Silica. This project overlaps with and includes the DustDuino and is coordinated on the Air-Quality Google Group.

A variety of particle sensors have been posted on the site:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
PurpleAir 24 days ago by joyofsoy 16 2,937 2
Simple Air Sensor 6 months ago by warren 31 1,216 4
MiniVol TAS Particulate Matter Monitor 10 months ago by Bronwen 45 1,366 1
MACA almost 2 years ago by nanocastro 4 462 5
DustDuino over 2 years ago by warren 26 5,166 7
pDR-1500 almost 3 years ago by mathew 6 704 2


Air quality projects

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Air Quality Class about 1 year ago by warren 60 229 3
Air Column Monitor about 7 years ago by liz 10 3,617 1
Roomba indoor air quality mapping over 8 years ago by warren 1 800 2


Resources

U.S. EPA Standards and Test Methods

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)

Section 109 of the Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety (primary standard) and for the protection of public welfare (secondary standard). Section 109(d)(1) of the CAA requires EPA to complete a thorough review of the NAAQS at 5-year intervals and promulgate new standards when appropriate.

Complete details of the standards, measurement principles, and data interpreation, can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50

Summary of the NAAQS Criteria Pollutants

EPANAAQS.gif

EPA Test Methods

EPA approved instruments are designated as either a Federal Reference Method (FRM) or Federal Equivalent Methods (FEM). The complete list of approved instruments for NAAQS evaluating is provided on the EPA Ambient Monitoring Technology Information Center (AMTIC) web site

Real Time Data

EPA and its State and Tribal partners publish near real-time air quality data (typically hourly updates) as well air quality forecasts on the AirNow web site.

The AirNow site also contains, links to Visibility Cameras, which are yet another way to evaluate air pollution.

Examples of clear and hazy days from Boston HazeCam:

boston.jpg

Historical Data

Historical air quality test results are freely available through EPA AirData

EPA & Citizen Science Next Generation of Monitors

EPA has also been involved with Next Generation Air Measuring (link may be deprecated) and is currently offering its Citizen Science Toolbox Resources online https://www.epa.gov/air-sensor-toolbox:

  • Air Sensor Guidebook;
  • Air Sensor Technology: State of the Science Presentation;
  • Mobile Sensors and Applications for Air Pollutants; and
  • Sensor Evaluation Report.

Other Resources for Air Quality Standards

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also offer a wealth of guidance. In particular, the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods is a collection of procedures for sampling and analysis of contaminants including workplace air.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their Toxicological Profiles, is particularly useful for when a pollutant can be identified by compound or element.

Wikis

All wiki pages relating to air quality:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
PurpleAir 24 days ago by joyofsoy 16 2,937 2
Choosing a method for Particulate Matter Monitoring about 1 month ago by stevie 21 103 0
The Sand Sentinel Program about 2 months ago by stevie 18 775 2
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter about 2 months ago by stevie 24 2,242 4
Orangetown Aluf 4 months ago by stevie 5 85 1
Air Quality 6 months ago by liz 32 5,165 8
Odor Logging 6 months ago by liz 31 737 3
CAFO 6 months ago by stevie 3 84 0
Observable air quality violations related to frac sand mining 10 months ago by stevie 2 123 0
Roomba Indoor Air Quality Monitoring 11 months ago by warren 49 1,051 8
Air Quality Class about 1 year ago by warren 60 229 3
Filters about 1 year ago by warren 11 124 2
DIY Indoor Air Remediation Kit over 1 year ago by liz 52 2,201 9
PM Tools over 1 year ago by warren 3 97 0
Particle Sensing almost 2 years ago by warren 25 2,218 5
MACA almost 2 years ago by nanocastro 4 462 5
Filter Based Monitoring of Particulate Matter about 2 years ago by warren 9 1,243 1
Air Sampling about 2 years ago by warren 21 2,064 2
DustDuino over 2 years ago by warren 26 5,166 7
General Environmental Monitoring Study Strategies over 2 years ago by gretchengehrke 2 368 0
Formaldehyde over 2 years ago by gretchengehrke 5 281 1
Open Air almost 3 years ago by liz 17 219 5
BioBroth Bubbler almost 3 years ago by warren 3 571 0
pDR-1500 almost 3 years ago by mathew 6 704 2
Silica about 3 years ago by mathew 17 321 1
Refinery Watching over 4 years ago by warren 18 511 5
Formaldehyde Test Kit over 4 years ago by mathew 23 2,792 9
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring & Mitigation over 4 years ago by liz 48 1,154 12
Roomba Air Quality Monitoring about 5 years ago by Shannon 2 267 1
Pollution-to-Solution over 5 years ago by epongrat 3 110 0
Hydrogen Sulfide from CAFOs in Iowa over 5 years ago by sophie 8 144 0
Summer CHAQ Class 1 Research Notes over 6 years ago by msmelody 1 84 1
Air Quality Class 07 almost 7 years ago by liz 1 85 0
Air Quality Class 06 almost 7 years ago by liz 1 73 0
Air Quality Class 7 almost 7 years ago by liz 9 79 0
Cypress Hills Air Quality Initiative about 7 years ago by liz 1 74 1
Air Column Monitor about 7 years ago by liz 10 3,617 1
vertical atmospheric profiles about 7 years ago by liz 3 84 0
microbes about 7 years ago by liz 14 236 1
indoor air quality mapping review about 8 years ago by gonzoearth 2 95 0