US EPA and Aeroqual work together for low cost air quality sensor future

We are excited to say that we are collaborating with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to accelerate towards the future of low cost air quality sensing.

The U.S. EPA announced a 5-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Aeroqual.

Rise of low cost air sensors

As environmental data gets more accessible, air sensors improve, and computing power increases, more and more people are feeling empowered to know: “what’s in this air that I’m breathing?” Researchers, citizen scientists, even school children are arming themselves with Next Generation Air Monitoring Tools to find answers to this question.

Manufacturers have responded to the demand by producing lower cost air sensor devices that can be deployed in greater numbers by people without previous air monitoring experience. However, the performance of these devices can be variable and clear guidelines and standards do not yet exist for their use.

AQY

That can create both challenges and opportunities for understanding and addressing air pollution and air quality monitoring. If a concerned parent records high pollution readings at their child’s school, how do we know if the data is reliable? Equally, if a researcher takes measurements and finds an absence of pollution, how do we know that the measurements are robust?

Examples like these are being played out across the globe.

Improving knowledge of air sensor technology

Dr. Rachelle Duvall of U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development says, “EPA is looking forward to collaborating with Aeroqual to improve knowledge of air sensor technologies, explore applications, and better understand the challenges of these devices such as calibration and performance over long time periods.”

The U.S. EPA will contribute its extensive air monitoring infrastructure and air pollution measurement capabilities to the project. We will contribute air sensor technology, our application expertise, and our knowledge of interpreting data from this kind of instrument.

Aeroqual a champion for ‘measurement first’ approach

For almost two decades, Aeroqual has pioneered the use of lower cost air monitoring technology, for the benefit of people and society, in a manner that is technically robust. We have deployed more than 10,000 instruments in the field – from the Amazon rainforest, to the streets of New York, to the Arabian Desert. This real-world experience has given us deep expertise in how to take credible quality measurements using sensors in a wide range of environmental conditions.

Photo credit (from top left): Downwinders at Risk, KETV NewsWatch 7 (St Gerald’s School), Prime Mover Consult Limited, University of Birmingham, Philippe Apparicio (Canada Research Chair in Environmental Equity & the City) and Jérémy Gelb (PhD Program in Urban Studies at INRS)

Our CTO Geoff Henshaw says, “This agreement is acknowledgement of the great opportunities and the great challenges that lie ahead of us as we work to increase the relevance of air quality information to individuals and their communities.”

Having long championed a ‘measurement first’ approach to lower cost air quality monitoring, we believe the CRADA will advance this approach. “The U.S. EPA collaboration will allow us to go deeper, faster, and do things at a much bigger scale.”

CRADA – project exploration

The first of many projects, will kick off early 2018. The sorts of things we’ll be exploring include:

  • New applications like at-risk communities and around wildfires
  • How to improve long term sensor performance
  • Optimizing factory and field calibration techniques
  • New measurement capabilities e.g. for volatile organic compounds.

Scientists from the U.S. EPA and Aeroqual expect to produce scientific papers and presentations that summarize their findings.

The work we do with the U.S. EPA will help us to:

  • Deepen our understanding of how our instruments perform in different applications
  • Drive improved sensor performance
  • Gather more long-term independent test data
  • Introduce lower cost sensors for e.g. VOC, BTEX
  • Introduce new low cost fixed and portable sensor products
  • Develop software tools like remote calibration

Find out more

If you’d like to know what this means for you, the industry, or society as a whole, please get in touch with us. We’re always happy to hear from you.

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