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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Study paves the way for the deployment of low-cost particle sensors to monitor air pollution in Southampton

Published: 17 June 2019
Low-cost fine particles sensors
Low-cost fine particles sensors deployed in Southampton

Florentin Bulot, NEXUSS/SMMI LTDS PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science at the University of Southampton, has published a paper entitled "Long-term field comparison of multiple low-cost particulate matter sensors in an outdoor urban environment” in Nature’s Scientific Reports. The publication printed on the 16th May 2019, studied the deployment of low-cost fine particle sensors in Southampton since February 2018.

Outdoor air pollution is deemed to be associated with 40,000 deaths per year in the UK. In Southampton, there is only one monitoring station for a 50km2 area. Monitoring stations are expensive, require significant expertise to be operated and it is difficult to find new locations to host additional stations in dense urban areas. Hence it is challenging to obtain a better spatial coverage of air pollution. Low-cost sensors may provide an opportunity to complement these monitoring stations. These sensors are commercially available but the quality of the data they produce is still poorly understood.

This study sheds lights on some of the limitations of these sensors and reveals that with proper consideration, they may be suitable to for monitoring fine particles where reference-standard equipment is not available or feasible and that they may be useful in studying spatially localised fine particles concentrations. It paves the way to the deployment of a dense network to monitor air pollution in Southampton and in other areas of interest.

This work has been presented at two conferences, the Royal Society of Chemistry “Monitoring Ambient Air Quality 2018 - Developments in Air Quality Current Issues and New Technologies” in December 2018 and at the 2019 Annual UK Review Meeting on Outdoor and Indoor Air Pollution Research hosted by Public Health England on the 16th May.

Florentin is supervised by Dr Steven Johnston (Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences), Prof Gavin Foster (Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences), Prof Simon Cox (Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences), Dr Matt Loxham (Faculty of Medicine), Dr Andrew Morris (National Oceanography Centre Southampton).

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