Commercially available, lower-cost air sensors have become a popular way to measure local air quality. Air sensors are often used by the public and researchers to understand air quality trends, study air quality in remote locations, supplement regulatory air monitoring, and support air quality education.
While there’s been a surge in their use, lower-cost sensors still pose certain challenges. Data quality from air sensors can widely vary, and, with no consistent methods to evaluate their performance, users can have a hard time knowing how their sensor data compares to that of regulatory air monitors. Users also face challenges with figuring out what sensors might best suit their desired application.
To address these issues, EPA researchers published two reports that recommend an approach for testing and evaluating the performance of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) air sensors for use in non-regulatory supplemental and informational monitoring (NSIM) applications. The reports – designed to be used by sensor manufacturers, developers, and testing organizations – provide a set of protocols for testing O3 and PM2.5 air sensors, metrics, and target values to evaluate sensor performance, and templates for reporting testing results. The testing protocols are entirely voluntary, and testers do not receive certification or endorsement by EPA.