Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Is there a Low-Cost Monitor to Measure Roadside Urban Emissions in Real-Time?

A Novel Method for Reliable Long-term Assessment of Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution Mixtures(Abstract, Natalia Mykhaylova, Kelly Sabaliauskas, Jon M Wang, Ezzat Jaroudi, Cheol-Heon Jeong, Jeff Brook, Greg J. Evans, American Association for Aerosol Research 32nd Annual Conference, Sep. 30-Oct.4, 2013)

Also discussed here: The Geography of Pollution - A PhD candidate’s low-cost sensors could be deployed across cities to gather highly local air-quality data (John Lorinc, UofT Magazine, Autumn 2013)

And here: Is Air Quality Affecting Your Health? - A U of T prof is looking at the relationship between traffic emissions, health and how close people live to major roads(John Lorinc, UofT Magazine, Jan. 11, 2013)

And here: Illness Costs of Air Pollution- Phase II:Estimating Health and Economic Damages(221 page pdf, submitted to Ontario Medical Association by DSS Management Consultants Inc, Jul. 26, 2000)

And here: The expanding scope of air pollution monitoring can facilitate sustainable development(Abstract, Knox A, Mykhaylova N, Evans GJ, Lee CJ, Karney B, Brook JR., Sci Total Environ. Mar. 15, 2013)

Today we look at a low-cost air quality monitor, developed at the University of Toronto, with the aim “to encourage local governments to deploy commercial versions of these low-cost devices in large numbers around urban areas as a way of generating a much more nuanced and up-to-the-minute picture of the invisible geography of pollution”. This is part of a larger research project aimed at assessing the health risks of roadside air pollution in Canada’s largest city where more than 2,000 people die prematurely each year according to the Illness Costs of Air Pollution (ICAP) model developed by the Ontario Medical Association and widely recognized by established authorities (such as the Auditor General of Canada and the Commissioner for the Environment for Ontario). The sensors provide a required precision of 5 to 15 ppb for O3 and NO2, 20 microgm/m3 for PM 2.5 and the entire cost of the unit is expected to be under $300.


Key Quotes:
“Toronto…has only four air-quality measurement stations providing real-time data, even though research shows that the concentration of pollutants such as nitric oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide can vary by orders of magnitude within an area spanning just a few city blocks.”

“Best-performing sensors for detection of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds, fine particulate matter and coarse particulate matter, were selected, further optimized and integrated into a portable sensor array system. Temperature and humidity sensors were included for data normalization.”

“The types compared included n-type MOS, p-type MOS, optical, and electrochemical sensors”

 “the system could detect concentrations as low as 5 ppm level for total volatile organic compounds, 20 micrograms per meter cubed for fine particulate matter, 5 ppb for ozone, 15 ppb for nitrogen dioxide and 400ppb for carbon monoxide. The pollutant levels showed large variation both temporally and spatially, indicating the importance of high resolution monitoring.”

“The shoebox-sized device…will eventually be powered by lithium batteries and small solar panels. She estimates the total price of the components can be kept to less than $300”

“Mykhaylova and her team have placed a dozen of their homemade pollution monitoring stations in backyards near highways around the city and are trying to determine the traffic’s impact on nearby air quality.” “.

“We know that how much people are exposed relates to where they live relative to major roadways …the question is how that exposure, when combined with other factors such as genetics, leads to undesirable health outcomes. We’re trying to figure out how far one needs to be from the roadway to no longer feel the impact of the emissions.”
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