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Air Sensors

The use of low-cost air sensors is increasing throughout the United States. These small, mobile air sensors are catching on and also presenting new ways to measure air pollution at more locations around Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.

In fact, these small sensors are becoming so prevalent that the South Coast Air Quality Management District – a very large public air quality agency in Southern California – built a lab just to test and evaluate them. (See link below.)

And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed an air sensor “toolbox” about how to use the sensors. EPA’s toolbox also offers other helpful information, such as its own research and evaluations of sensors. (Link below.)

While the various types of sensors present some very interesting possibilities, they also face serious questions about reliability, accuracy, and whether they can stand up to the kinds of weather conditions we experience in Northwest Washington.

To ensure more accurate sensor readings, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) in Oregon worked with the makers of PurpleAir sensors. They came up with a conversion factor so sensor results more accurately match more sophisticated air monitoring equipment used by NWCAA and other clean air agencies. You can read more about it here.

NWCAA Video: Using the PurpleAir Map

Map of PurpleAir Sensors (shows LRAPA conversion factor)

EPA’s Fire and Smoke Map (includes PurpleAir sensors)

EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox

EPA Air Sensor Videos in English and Spanish

South Coast AQMD: Evaluation of Sensor Types

Siting and Installing A Sensor