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Air Quality

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Outdoor air pollution, in the most extreme cases, can be immediately identified even without any special training. It casts a haze over cities, collects on streets and buildings, and provides dramatic fodder for the news. But while high drama is often a prerequisite for news about air quality to be reported, the real story is the health impacts that occur even when the air isn't thick enough to see.

Lead image from @eustatic's work

Introduction

According to the EPA, Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Most pollutants affecting indoor air quality come from sources inside buildings, although some originate outdoors. Typical pollutants of concern include combustion products such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and environmental tobacco smoke; substances of natural origin such as radon; biological agents such as molds; pesticides; lead; asbestos; ozone (from some air cleaners); and various volatile organic compounds from a variety of products and materials.

This is even more striking when the health effects attributed to outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) rank among the risk factors with the highest health impacts in the world, annually accounting for over 3.2 million premature deaths. In October 2013, the World Health Organization announced they are considering particulate matter, a major component of indoor and outdoor air pollution, as a Group 1 carcinogen along with tobacco smoke and asbestos.

For more, see this excellent overview by Toxics Action Center

Example Air Pollution Regulations in Wisconsin:

VIOLATIONS RELEVANT PROVISION
Air pollution which is defined as the presence of smoke, dust, gases, fumes in the air. The presence of these substances must also lead to injury on humans, animals or plants as well as interfere with the enjoyment of life or one's property. NR 400.02
Fugitive dust. This refers to the presence in the air of dust from sources such as open fields and piles. There will be a violation on air quality when during handling, transporting and storing of materials, the people undertaking these activities do not take precaution and some of these materials end up being released into the air. NR 415.04
Causing, allowing or permitting solid or liquid hazardous substances into the air. This includes dust, soot, pollen, smoke and liquid droplets. One can spot that violation by simply observing the ambient air. NR. 415.05
Industrial sand mines that do not take precautions to ensure dust does not escape into the air. NR 415.075

Subtopics

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Odor Logging about 2 months ago by joyofsoy 32 778 3
Introduction to Particulate Matter 5 months ago by stevie 90 3,057 7
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter 5 months ago by stevie 24 2,715 4
Filters over 1 year ago by warren 11 157 2
Air Sensors over 1 year ago by warren 11 658 1
PM Tools over 1 year ago by warren 3 104 0
Particle Sensing about 2 years ago by warren 25 2,314 5
Silica Monitoring over 2 years ago by warren 14 3,935 4
Dust Sampling over 2 years ago by warren 4 246 1


Questions

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
What causes shimmering air above flares? @kgradow1 11 days ago 5
Where is non-compliance reported for fencline monitoring? @A_SCH new contributor 12 days ago 2
How accurate is data on WebFire? @ajg434 new contributor 12 days ago 3
How do you account for wind in an air study? @kgradow1 17 days ago 2
Updated list of EPA TO methods? @kgradow1 19 days ago 1
What are ways to monitor for oil and gas spills on private property? @stevie about 1 month ago 3
T and RH compensation for PM measurements? @subir about 1 month ago 3
Can we add a 2um filter to the bucket monitor to capture particulates? @kgradow1 about 2 months ago 4
Have you used the bucket air sampler or other grab sample tool? @kgradow1 about 2 months ago 12
MiniVol for gas sensing? @kgradow1 about 2 months ago 2
Is the Purple Air sensor an EPA-validated tool? @kgradow1 about 2 months ago 4
Have you used surveys to inform open hardware development? @kgradow1 2 months ago 1
Can we use a Purple Air through a VPN? @stevie 2 months ago 5
Where can I find good low-cost air quality sensors? @mgoodwin 3 months ago 5
Can you blur the location of a Purple Air device? @stevie 4 months ago 3
Does anyone have experience assembling low-cost VOC kits using Adafruit’s VOC sensor? @stevie 4 months ago 8
Are there examples where environmental concerns were addressed as a result of people filing complaints (or suspected permit violations)? @stevie 5 months ago 7
Do you really need a special filter to filter out ultrafine particulates in the air? @BostonFern 5 months ago 3
Vape detector @Ryanwest 7 months ago 6
What are the health impacts of the Aluf Plastics Plant from air pollution? @stevie 7 months ago 6
How do we keep the pressure and momentum high after a recent court ruling win? @stevie 7 months ago 2
What are air testing labs or companies we can recommend to our town board that our community can trust? @stevie 7 months ago 3
Is there a way to make a cheaper "UV Hound"? @liz 9 months ago 13
SPS30 instead of PlanTower units? @subir 10 months ago 4
Which sensor is the best to use it during cycling? @niklasjordan 11 months ago 2
Who are the environmental organizations that do air quality monitoring in Deer Park Texas? @stevie 11 months ago 1
How we can do our own air quality monitoring in Deer Park Texas? @stevie 11 months ago 0
combining code for PMS7003 into Aircasting code @vinushi1995 11 months ago 2
What are indoor air quality concerns related to nail salons? @stevie 12 months ago 8
PMS7003 with Arduino MEGA2560 @vinushi1995 12 months ago 3
How can I start a project on environmental air quality around crop dusting areas @lubcarreon 12 months ago 7
What is the correct AQI measure ? @sagarpreet about 1 year ago 22
How to interpret PMS5003 sensor values? @samr about 1 year ago 10
Is there a predictive relationship between the number of PM 2.5 and smaller airborne particulates compared to the mass of the same ug per cubic meter? @Tomp about 1 year ago 5
Where can diffusion tubes for detecting nitrogen dioxide be found in different parts of the world? @warren over 1 year ago 3
Seeking sources of local wind/weather data @warren over 1 year ago 3
How to start air monitoring project? @shannonkmcalpine over 1 year ago 9
Building a case against Aluf Plastics -- polluting my town & I need help @michaelwma over 1 year ago 9
What do we know about EPA National Emissions Inventory (NEI) data? @warren over 1 year ago 0
How can we connect a PMS5003 dust sensor to an Arduino? @warren over 1 year ago 14
Can biosolids promote certain types of mold growth in buildings? @zengirl2 almost 2 years ago 0
Low-cost air quality sensors to measure PM2.5, PM10? @bigmit37 almost 2 years ago 9
Air quality balloons - an updated version? @cindy_excites almost 2 years ago 8
Is there someone who can help pull and analyze Purple Air data? @stevie about 2 years ago 9
Looking for hands-on help with a datalogger! @Bronwen about 2 years ago 6
Can MiniVol (TAS Particulate Matter Monitor) measure Black Carbon or Elemental Carbon? @stevie about 2 years ago 2
Hey @matthew I am trying to build same PPM kit you guys have here. Where did you guys get the sampler stub? @Matej about 2 years ago 2
what data-logger will work with my portable HCHO meter? @nshapiro over 2 years ago 44
Lego Spectrometer suitable for studying sunlight? @jsbonillam over 2 years ago 12
3 particle type @Ag8n over 2 years ago 0
What are good humidity sensor/monitors to use with gas sampling kits? @gretchengehrke over 2 years ago 2
Anyone in Ontario working on ultrafine particle pollution? @liz over 2 years ago 0
What are different ways to collect respirable dust samples for analysis? @warren over 2 years ago 3
What kind of Framework for Participatory PM2.5 can be used for creating monitoring cities? @stevie over 2 years ago 0
What is the best way to take a sample of snow to look for particulates? @stevie over 2 years ago 3
What are ways to make DIY filters to remove particulate pollution from indoor air? @zengirl2 over 2 years ago 12
What are some ways to collect dust or particulate samples for analysis? @warren over 2 years ago 4
Training in odor identification? @sara over 2 years ago 1
How do I choose between different types of air canisters for grab sampling? @stevie over 2 years ago 0
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 1
Methods for or experience measuring workplace hydrogen sulfide gas? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 2
What type of health issues are associated with inhalation of ultrafine particles? @liz almost 3 years ago 2
What do the terms attainment and nonattainment mean? @liz almost 3 years ago 2
How do you account for signal drift with sensors in the field? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 2
Do you have resources on odor logs and odor reporting platforms? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 7
What are the health effects related to fine particles of calcium carbonate? @stevie about 3 years ago 8
AERMOD: Is it a good model? How has it been tested and verified? @marlokeno over 3 years ago 0
lightweight air quality sensors for a weather balloon @glenc over 3 years ago 2
What kind/size of microdust does activated carbon give off & how much of a concern is it? @jfrankamp over 3 years ago 2
In the plant based air purifier, could airflow go the other way, using an unmodified pump? @warren over 3 years ago 9
How can i know if my plant-based air filter is working? @liz almost 4 years ago 5
Is CALPUFF a good air quality modeling tool @marlokeno almost 4 years ago 4
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Activities

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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Particle Sensor Projects

Public Lab has initiated a Particle Sensing Project focused primarily on Silica. This project overlaps with and includes the DustDuino and is coordinated on the Air-Quality Google Group.

A variety of particle sensors have been posted on the site:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
PurpleAir 4 months ago by joyofsoy 16 3,371 2
Simple Air Sensor 9 months ago by warren 31 1,394 4
MiniVol TAS Particulate Matter Monitor about 1 year ago by Bronwen 45 1,537 1
MACA about 2 years ago by nanocastro 4 481 5
DustDuino over 2 years ago by warren 26 5,312 7
pDR-1500 about 3 years ago by mathew 6 746 2


Air quality projects

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Air Quality Class over 1 year ago by warren 60 243 3
Air Column Monitor over 7 years ago by liz 10 3,746 1
Roomba indoor air quality mapping almost 9 years ago by warren 1 846 2


Resources

U.S. EPA Standards and Test Methods

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)

Section 109 of the Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety (primary standard) and for the protection of public welfare (secondary standard). Section 109(d)(1) of the CAA requires EPA to complete a thorough review of the NAAQS at 5-year intervals and promulgate new standards when appropriate.

Complete details of the standards, measurement principles, and data interpreation, can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50

Summary of the NAAQS Criteria Pollutants

EPANAAQS.gif

EPA Test Methods

EPA approved instruments are designated as either a Federal Reference Method (FRM) or Federal Equivalent Methods (FEM). The complete list of approved instruments for NAAQS evaluating is provided on the EPA Ambient Monitoring Technology Information Center (AMTIC) web site

Real Time Data

EPA and its State and Tribal partners publish near real-time air quality data (typically hourly updates) as well air quality forecasts on the AirNow web site.

The AirNow site also contains, links to Visibility Cameras, which are yet another way to evaluate air pollution.

Examples of clear and hazy days from Boston HazeCam:

boston.jpg

Historical Data

Historical air quality test results are freely available through EPA AirData

EPA & Citizen Science Next Generation of Monitors

EPA has also been involved with Next Generation Air Measuring (link may be deprecated) and is currently offering its Citizen Science Toolbox Resources online https://www.epa.gov/air-sensor-toolbox:

  • Air Sensor Guidebook;
  • Air Sensor Technology: State of the Science Presentation;
  • Mobile Sensors and Applications for Air Pollutants; and
  • Sensor Evaluation Report.

Other Resources for Air Quality Standards

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and its National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also offer a wealth of guidance. In particular, the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods is a collection of procedures for sampling and analysis of contaminants including workplace air.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their Toxicological Profiles, is particularly useful for when a pollutant can be identified by compound or element.

Wikis

All wiki pages relating to air quality:

Title Updated Version Views Likes
Bucket Monitor 2 days ago by kgradow1 19 69 1
Air Sampling about 1 month ago by kgradow1 23 2,445 2
Odor Logging about 2 months ago by joyofsoy 32 778 3
PurpleAir 4 months ago by joyofsoy 16 3,371 2
Choosing a method for Particulate Matter Monitoring 5 months ago by stevie 21 135 0
The Sand Sentinel Program 5 months ago by stevie 18 1,185 2
Optical Monitoring of Particulate Matter 5 months ago by stevie 24 2,715 4
Orangetown Aluf 7 months ago by stevie 5 101 1
Air Quality 9 months ago by liz 32 5,398 8
CAFO 9 months ago by stevie 3 100 0
Observable air quality violations related to frac sand mining about 1 year ago by stevie 2 128 0
Roomba Indoor Air Quality Monitoring about 1 year ago by warren 49 1,111 8
Air Quality Class over 1 year ago by warren 60 243 3
Filters over 1 year ago by warren 11 157 2
DIY Indoor Air Remediation Kit over 1 year ago by liz 52 2,299 9
PM Tools over 1 year ago by warren 3 104 0
Particle Sensing about 2 years ago by warren 25 2,314 5
MACA about 2 years ago by nanocastro 4 481 5
Filter Based Monitoring of Particulate Matter over 2 years ago by warren 9 1,346 1
DustDuino over 2 years ago by warren 26 5,312 7
General Environmental Monitoring Study Strategies over 2 years ago by gretchengehrke 2 386 0
Formaldehyde almost 3 years ago by gretchengehrke 5 293 1
Open Air about 3 years ago by liz 17 236 5
BioBroth Bubbler about 3 years ago by warren 3 594 0
pDR-1500 about 3 years ago by mathew 6 746 2
Silica over 3 years ago by mathew 17 334 1
Refinery Watching over 4 years ago by warren 18 550 5
Formaldehyde Test Kit over 4 years ago by mathew 23 3,052 9
Indoor Air Quality Monitoring & Mitigation almost 5 years ago by liz 48 1,200 12
Roomba Air Quality Monitoring over 5 years ago by Shannon 2 283 1
Pollution-to-Solution almost 6 years ago by epongrat 3 123 0
Hydrogen Sulfide from CAFOs in Iowa almost 6 years ago by sophie 8 152 0
Summer CHAQ Class 1 Research Notes almost 7 years ago by msmelody 1 90 1
Air Quality Class 07 about 7 years ago by liz 1 95 0
Air Quality Class 06 about 7 years ago by liz 1 80 0
Air Quality Class 7 about 7 years ago by liz 9 89 0
Cypress Hills Air Quality Initiative over 7 years ago by liz 1 81 1
Air Column Monitor over 7 years ago by liz 10 3,746 1
vertical atmospheric profiles over 7 years ago by liz 3 96 0
microbes over 7 years ago by liz 14 243 1
indoor air quality mapping review over 8 years ago by gonzoearth 2 104 0