Public Lab Wiki documentation

Air Quality

Odor Log 1.0

by imvec 30 days ago | 0 | 229 | 3

_"The most accessible and sophisticated environmental monitoring equipment is made available to m...

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Build a plant-based air purifier

by nshapiro over 1 year ago | 7 | 1,791 | 9

Domestic chemical ecologies have both many toxicant sources and many toxicant sinks. Formaldehy...

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List of electronic nose projects

by imvec 30 days ago | 3 | 172 | 2

To create a list of electronic nose projects. Mbed microcontroller: [A Compact and Low Cos...

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Visualize live sensor data with p5js and an Arduino

by warren about 1 month ago | 5 | 345 | 2

(This is a draft!) I made a simple p5js sketch (read below) to live sensor data off of an Arduino...

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Registro de olores

by imvec about 1 month ago | 0 | 188 | 2

Facilitar el registro y monitorización de eventos de malos olores a través de la recogida de dat...

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Python and openCV to analyze microscope slide images of airborne particles

by amirberAgain 2 months ago | 13 | 550 | 6

Following the Jan 9th air quality open call I wanted to see what can be done with a microscope sl...

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Formaldehyde Monitoring Open Call on Tuesday, January 16th at 3:00 pm ET

by nshapiro 2 months ago | 1 | 453 | 1

Hi Everyone, We are hosting an Open Call on Tuesday, January 16th at 3:00 pm ET, to discuss an o...

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Thoughts on Low Cost air quality sensors

by guolivar 2 months ago | 2 | 555 | 6

This was prompted by a [question by warren](

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More research on "air-quality" »

Title Last edited Edits Likes
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter 7 days ago by warren 23 4
Odor 9 days ago by gretchengehrke 15 3
Particle Sensing about 1 month ago by warren 23 5
Air Sampling about 1 month ago by warren 21 2
DustDuino 3 months ago by warren 26 79
General Environmental Monitoring Study Strategies 3 months ago by gretchengehrke 2 0
Formaldehyde 6 months ago by gretchengehrke 5 1
Open Air 9 months ago by liz 17 5
DIY Indoor Air Remediation Kit 10 months ago by warren 50 7
BioBroth Bubbler 10 months ago by warren 3 0
Silica about 1 year ago by mathew 17 2
Air Quality over 1 year ago by warren 15 7
Refinery Watching over 2 years ago by warren 18 5
Formaldehyde Test Kit over 2 years ago by mathew 23 7
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring & Mitigation over 2 years ago by liz 48 13
Roomba Indoor Air Quality Monitoring about 3 years ago by Shannon 45 8
Roomba Air Quality Monitoring about 3 years ago by Shannon 2 1
Hydrogen Sulfide from CAFOs in Iowa over 3 years ago by sophie 8 0
Summer CHAQ Class 1 Research Notes over 4 years ago by msmelody 1 1
Air Quality Class 07 almost 5 years ago by liz 1 0
Air Quality Class 06 almost 5 years ago by liz 1 0
Air Quality Class 7 almost 5 years ago by liz 9 0
Cypress Hills Air Quality Initiative about 5 years ago by liz 1 1
Air Column Monitor about 5 years ago by liz 10 1
vertical atmospheric profiles about 5 years ago by liz 3 0
microbes about 5 years ago by liz 14 1
indoor air quality mapping review about 6 years ago by gonzoearth 2 0

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.

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.

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


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:


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 and is currently offering its Citizen Science Toolbox Resources online:

  • 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.

Particle Sensing Project

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 (join in left sidebar).


DustDuino can help individuals with limited resources monitor PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations, indoors or outdoors. It uses Shinyei PPD42NS, a $15USD optical sensor that uses an LED and a lens to determine the concentration of dust in a partially closed chamber that draws in air from its surroundings. The sensor data is received by an Arduino development board and transmitted to Xively. Prototypes of DustDuino have been successfully built and used in various indoor and outdoor locations.

Cypress Hills Air Quality (CHAQ) Initiative

In 2013, this 8 week Air Quality Class was created for middle-schoolers in the Cypress Hills Air Quality (CHAQ) Initiative, with support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's program "Citizen Science: Community Involvement Today and in the Future". This project was a collaboration with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. Joe Saavedra and Liz Barry are the Public Laboratory facilitators. Georgia Bullen, Yael, and Jason Lipshin are involved from MIT.

Air Column Monitor

The air column monitor is in early phases of development. The April 2012 EcoHackII at Parsons in NYC brought together a group of developers, "scientists", data visualizers and activists to work on the initial design. This tool is being developed as a partnership between Public Lab and the AirQualityEgg/Sensemakers community.

Roomba Indoor Air Quality Mapping

This tool is being developed to experiment with visually mapping indoor air quality. A Roomba--the room cleaning vacuum--is programmed to travel all around a room once it is left to roam. Therefore, it is an ideal tool to assess the quality of air throughout a room.

indoor-air-quality-mapping air-quality air-quality-egg dustduino plots-air-quality

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