Last week I started a brief poll on Twitter because I wanted to obtain feedback from the community. The subject was simple “Which source of #AirPollution affects you the most?”
263 people responded and unfortunately, I can’t say that the results surprise me. Vehicle traffic was voted as number #1 source of air pollution with a massive 53% and it was followed by 32% wood burning for heating like wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, etc. 7% of the users voted that agriculture is the source of air pollution in their communities and an 8% voted other.
I would like to comment about each category individually, but first of all, I would like to make something clear. All sources are equally important, I don’t rank them from most to least important but I classify them based on what people think is the source in their community, and it varies a lot.
When you use low-cost monitors for professional reasons, you need to calibrate them in order to obtain the best possible measurements. This process makes data less vulnerable to environmental conditions and more valuable to scientists and policymakers.
Clarity takes this process really seriously, and they dedicate a lot of resources to making sure their devices will measure accurate data (for more on how to assess air quality sensor accuracy, see this blog). I ask Clarity to perform a remote calibration on my Node-S and guide me through the entire the process.
I have discovered something interesting during that process about the local air quality station.
As you may already know from my previous articles, my local air quality station ES1393A is placed inside a park and it is almost surrounded by trees. Trees act as a barrier, and they block pollutants from reaching the monitors. The Clarity team told me that this was an especially complicated calibration. I suspect it has to do with the location of the station and how trees may interact with low-cost sensors.
The type of trees in my city is a variation of a ficus called ficus retusa l. var nitida. These trees release a resin from their leaves which can create interference to the low-cost sensors that do not have a filter to keep them out as the scientific-grade monitors do. Most outdoor scientific-grade monitors come with a debris screen inlet or an Inlet Heater which may capture the resin from the trees.
The problem is not the trees but the location of the air quality station that shouldn’t have been there.
As you already know, I receive messages from readers of my blog almost every day. Their most common question is which air quality monitor should they choose. Most of the time in their message, they tell me that they go through Amazon to find a product, but they are confused from their reviews.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Monitors are a big hit nowadays due to the pandemic and because they are great tools at helping us understand indoor ventilation in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. Many new CO2 monitors pop up every day like mushrooms. Are they good, well …. you have to be careful!
No offense to Amazon or AliExpress or Facebook but most of their products are garbage for two reasons. Firstly, they are cheap products that come from China but without any quality control. Apple products come from China too, but Apple controls the quality of the shipping products. I have reviewed some cheap air quality monitors here on the blog just to justify their low price tag. Secondly, companies that sell these products don’t offer any kind of support nor updates. If the product has a small bug, you will stick with it forever. Many times the language they come with is badly translated or they come in Chinese if you are not careful enough during the purchase process.
In today’s marketplace, there are many ambient air quality monitors capable of measuring multiple environmental parameters and pollutants in real-time. However, air quality monitors aren’t useful unless they are paired with an intelligent software platform in order to extrapolate the information and make it serviceable to operators and communities.
Envirosuite has succeeded in embedded 30+ years or experience working with complex air quality and meteorology challenges directly into an advanced software platform. Users can make operational decisions based on insights from real-time air quality data and emissions modeling. Furthermore, they can identify the likely sources of air quality pollution from past incidents.
The platform is currently used by over 500 industrial operations such as mines, oil refineries, maritime ports, construction sites but also for municipal authorities in cities. Noise management capabilities are also used at 200 of the world’s major airports.
Key modules and their functionalities
Envirosuite does just that and it is a global leader in Environmental Intelligence, using proprietary technology and real-time localized data to help industries grow sustainably and communities to thrive. The platform integrates with pre-existing monitoring devices that are capturing data on multiple air quality parameters. It is offered as SaaS (software-as-a-service) subscription supported by AWS cloud technology and is segmented into modular solutions for to assist with specific air quality challenges.