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Can’t decide which air quality monitoring approach to use?

05-Jul-2024Hybrid networks | Networks

Can’t decide which air quality monitoring approach to use?

Can’t decide which air quality monitoring approach to use? Go for all of them!

We often come across customers who are agonising over which sensor system – or even which technology – to use and we suggest a hybrid network. Whilst the best air quality monitoring networks will always include a reference station, which can provide data traceability back to an approved standard, there are good reasons to broaden the range of measurement approaches.

We are yet to come across a project where budget was not a consideration. We are also very familiar with the questions, “how many measurement points do I need” or “how many can I have with my budget?”

By using each sort of technology to its strengths, hybrid networks simply help your budget go further. The common denominator required is that all measurement devices of a given type read the same; that readings are repeatable and precise. From that point it is possible to cross-relate time- and location-specific measurements, applying correction factors as necessary. This approach can work when choosing between small sensor systems, as long as you are satisfied that similar instruments will produce similar readings: using different brands in your project may take a little longer to manage, but reduces risks and leaves options open.

So, measurements from air samples or passive samplers, analysed in a laboratory, can be compared to reference or equivalence readings, as well as output from small sensor systems, ranging from more expensive (but still much cheaper than reference) near-reference small sensor systems, mid-range and even the cheapest or ‘home-made’ microsensor platforms. Examples we have come across include networks managed by Cheltenham Borough Council, UK, which uses a combination of diffusion tubes, reference equipment and AQMesh pods, and Kitchener, Canada which combines AQMesh with reference. SAMHE also integrates indoor and outdoor air quality measurements, and there is a shale oil producer in the Baltic region which uses reference equipment for H2S and SO2 alongside data from AQMesh. The Breathe London pilot even incorporated data from mobile Google cars.

Increasingly, the final output of such networks drives the crossing of such boundaries. For example, all local air quality measurements across Iceland are published on a single platform, with the network operator ensuring that data accuracy is managed through appropriate data quality assurance measures.

We are happy to discuss all types of hybrid air quality monitoring networks and how AQMesh can play its part in your objectives.