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Question: Is the Purple Air sensor an EPA-validated tool?

kgradow1 is asking a question about air-quality: Follow this topic

by kgradow1 | May 08, 2020 00:32 | #23575


I'm working on the bucket brigade air sample project and am trying to understand how community tools become "EPA-approved" (and whether this is a necessary step). An early version of the bucket was piloted through an EPA grant and having EPA approval is certainly helpful in some contexts to be able to push for improved monitoring. I'm trying to get a better sense of how and when - or if! -- EPA validation matters for community tools.

PA is a particle monitor not a gas sensor, but I think it's a good point of comparison since it's so widely used. I've looked at some of the EPA's past evaluation methodologies andper this question, I know that Purple Air has been field tested by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Has this tool gone through a formal validation process? If so, what did that look like? If you've used Purple Air, has that made a difference in terms of its use?



4 Comments

I bet someone at South Coast Air Quality Management District could point us in the right direction....does anyone know someone we might call or email?

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Hi! tagging in a couple people who might be able to help answer: @Ag8n, @Cbarnes9 , @OrionAllgaier, @BrandonFeenstra, and @guolivar (two for you today!)

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Purple air would be the best group to answer this question.

If the data exists, it would help the sales of the purple air instruments. A quick look didn't show anything on their website, but it could be part of other certifications.

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Short answer is NO ... longer answer is still no but with some reasons behind.

In general the EPA (and any other regulatory body) needs A LOT of convincing to certify anything and it is usually left to the manufacturers to do that certification and that's why "low-cost" and "certified" tend to not go together.

Now, that's not to say that the PA (and many other similar tools) don't give useful information, they do and in my experience, the general public value more having "some" data than how many stickers the instrument has. This of course means that it is inevitable to have, at some point, a discussion (argument) with local regulators about the quality of the instruments being used by the community and the way we spin that is that "non-certified" data can be useful in identify potential problems that may require further investigation with "official" tools.

As I said, the answer is still no, but that hasn't really stopped anyone from using them to throw numbers at the authorities to get them to investigate a particular issue.

Disclaimer: I work in NZ so I don't have direct interactions with the US EPA but the issues are the same everywhere.

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