Researchers have developed a way of collecting more and increasingly accurate information on air quality in urban areas. The findings can benefit, for example, urban planning and reduce health hazards associated with air pollution.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed a technique for obtaining accurate information on air quality using simple and inexpensive measuring equipment. Thanks to the new technique, low-cost sensors could be utilised with a considerably broader scope.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution kills seven million people worldwide every year, which is why air quality is monitored using a range of means. Fixed measuring sites, such as the Stations Measuring Earth Surfaces and Atmosphere Relations” (SMEAR) stations of the University of Helsinki, provide reliable results, but the technologies used are expensive.
Attempts have been made to develop less expensive sensors to complement the fixed measuring sites, which could be installed in great numbers all over the world. With inexpensive sensors, the extent of information on air quality could be considerably increased, both temporally and geographically.
“Low-cost sensors could be installed, for example, in offices or public transport. Individuals could also purchase such sensors to measure the air quality of their immediate surroundings. The masses of data accumulated through the sensors would benefit research focused on population health, urban planning and environmental research,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Martha Arbayani Zaidan from the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR), University of Helsinki.
The problem so far with low-cost air quality sensors has been that the data produced has not always been of sufficiently high quality, resulting in the necessity of comparing and calibrating the figures with those of the SMEAR stations and other fixed measuring sites. That takes time and money.
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