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Development of a Power-Independent Low-Cost Particulate Monitor for Air Quality Monitoring in the Bronx -New York City

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Abstract

In collaboration with the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) at Queens College, NY, low-cost air quality monitors were surveyed and assessed through field collocation and integrated into a cellular data acquisition system. This project explored the feasibility of using stationary low-cost monitoring networks for spatial and temporal estimation of ambient fine particulate concentrations (PM2.5) in an environmental justice community in New York City –Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, in the Bronx a borough which is characterized by a high rate of asthma and cardio-respiratory issues due to the presence of high levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere.
Development of a Power-Independent Low-Cost Particulate Monitor for Air
Quality Monitoring in the Bronx New York City
Ana Maria Carmen Ilie1, Holger Michael Eisl2, and Michael Heimbinder3
1 Colorado School of Mines, Golden CO 80401, USA
2 Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment Queens College, NY 11367, USA
3 HabitatMap, Brooklyn NY 11217, USA
ailie@mines.edu
Understanding the spatial and temporal scales at which air quality affects people is critical for maintaining the overall
health of a community. Due to the high cost and technical requirements associated with regulatory-grade
instrumentation, Federal Reference Method (FRM), and Federal Equivalent Method (FEM), multiple challenges are
encountered during installation at multiple locations. This work intends to explore the feasibility of using low-cost
instrumentation and hardware to create a more accessible platform for measuring air quality. Based on the trade-
off analysis for accuracy and cost, low-cost monitors have proven to be a good alternative for measuring air pollutant
concentrations. In collaboration with the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) at Queens
College, NY, low-cost air quality monitors were surveyed and assessed through field colocation and integrated into
a cellular data acquisition system. This project explored the feasibility of using stationary low-cost monitoring
networks for spatial and temporal estimation of ambient fine particulate concentrations (PM2.5) in an environmental
justice community in New York City Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, in the Bronx a borough which is
characterized by a high rate of asthma and cardio-respiratory issues due to the presence of high levels of particulate
matter in the atmosphere. The study area is located exactly between the three main highways known as the “toxic
triangle”. The primary objective was to better understand the community’s exposure to poor air quality coming from
the Sheridan expressway where thousands of trucks pass by every day towards the commercial area in Hunts Point.
The data from the community-based low-cost stationary monitoring networks were compared to FEM. The
stationary networks in the neighborhood consisted of a total of 12 monitoring locations. The data collection started
in May 2019 and lasted until November 2019. Based on the R-squared value a strong agreement was observed
between FEM and AirBeam2 low-cost sensors. In the Bronx daily PM2.5 average has been found to be around 10
µg/m3, using data collected from September to November 2019. There are durations when the spike in
PM2.5 concentration occurs, reaching as high as 17 μg/m3 at the end of September and October. While mean
PM2.5 concentrations in the Bronx varied from 3 to 7 µg/m3 on the weekdays and 3 to 6 µg/m3 on the weekends.
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