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Air Sensors

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Choosing Sensors

Often the first step is to look for a sensor for what you're hoping to measure. In the community posts below, we're collecting info on different kinds of air quality sensors, and their:

  • cost
  • sensitivity/accuracy
  • links and documentation

Can you afford a sensor? Can it detect what you're looking for? Where can you learn more about it?

Posts about choosing and evaluating an air sensor

Expected ranges and useful detection limits for pollutants of interest

This table from an EPA Air Quality Monitoring and Community Science webinar lists the six criteria air pollutants and a couple additional pollutants, with background levels you might see in the environment in the “Range to Expect” column and useful detection limits for sensors.

pollutant ranges

Wikis about air sensors

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Air-polluting gases and monitoring methods over 2 years ago by fongvania 5 647 1
DustDuino over 3 years ago by bhamster 27 7,336 7
Simple Air Sensor over 3 years ago by a1ahna 47 3,578 7
PurpleAir about 4 years ago by joyofsoy 16 10,039 2
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter over 4 years ago by stevie 24 6,243 4
MiniVol TAS Particulate Matter Monitor about 5 years ago by Bronwen 45 3,703 1
MACA about 6 years ago by nanocastro 4 787 5
pDR-1500 about 7 years ago by mathew 6 1,306 2

Air sensor projects

Public Lab pages and posts tagged air-sensor-projects will appear here


Title Author Updated Likes Comments
How to connect an anemometer to an air particulate monitor? @crispinpierce almost 3 years ago 0
What are your experiences using low-cost VOC sensors outdoors? And other questions about accuracy. @bhamster over 3 years ago 4
Have you used surveys to inform open hardware development? @kgradow1 about 4 years ago 1
Questions about Plantower sensors from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire @OrionAllgaier about 5 years ago 5
Should the Purple Air be co-located with a weather station? @stevie over 5 years ago 2
Why are the PM10 particles of the Purpleair monitor biased so high? @Cbarnes9 over 5 years ago 7
What type of aerosol was used for the calibration of the purpleair lasers? @Cbarnes9 over 5 years ago 5
Does particle composition that the purple air monitors measure greatly skew the data output? @Cbarnes9 over 5 years ago 4
How can we connect a PMS5003 dust sensor to an Arduino? @warren over 5 years ago 10
Looking for hands-on help with a datalogger! @Bronwen about 6 years ago 3
what data-logger will work with my portable HCHO meter? @nshapiro about 6 years ago 44
The difference between medical particle monitoring and your particle monitoring? @Ag8n about 6 years ago 4
3 particle type @Ag8n over 6 years ago 0
What different electronic particulate pollution sensors are available and at what cost? @warren over 6 years ago 4
How good is the PurpleAir sensor and what does it detect? @warren over 6 years ago 12
What are some ways to collect dust or particulate samples for analysis? @warren over 6 years ago 4
Is the dustduino (with Shinyei sensor) appropriate for use to study particulates at high altitude (100,00ft)? @rickwoodrickle over 9 years ago 1
Is it possible to log the data from a dustduino without a wifi network? @kp55 over 9 years ago 3

Further reading and resources

  • Environmental consultant Tim Dye’s “4 questions to ask before buying an air quality sensor” neatly summarizes what to consider when choosing an air sensor.
  • lots of information on low-cost sensors for various air pollutants.
  • Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center (AQ-SPEC): from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, this program tests and evaluates air sensors “in the field, under ambient conditions, and in the laboratory under controlled environmental conditions.”
  • Air Sensor Toolbox: from the US Environmental Protection Agency, this toolbox includes guidance on how to use air sensors and their data, plus information on sensor performance and evaluation results.

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