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Community Air Monitoring: A short summary of low tech, micro air samplers

Diane Bailey

Posted July 29, 2013

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This past semester I had the good fortune of working with a group of students through a “Service Learning Project” in a class on Environmental Justice at the University of California Berkeley.  The work focused on Community Air Monitoring, exploring new technology that makes air monitors more accessible to people.  The following is a summary of their findings.

 This month regional air monitoring plans were due to U.S. EPA in dozens of metro areas across the nation, updating the network of government air monitors.  These air monitors play an important role informing the public about how healthy or unhealthy air quality may be in their region, and driving clean air policies based on measured air pollutant levels.  For many communities, though, there is a need for more air monitoring to provide data in areas where pollutant levels are likely to be elevated due to heavy traffic or industrial sources.  The following table provides an overview of low tech air monitors that are more accessible and may be affordable for people who want to find out more about pollutant levels in their community.








MiniVol Portable Air Sampler


PM 2.5-10, Heavy Metals, CO2, NOx


Berkeley Air Monitoring Group



PM 2.5


Dylos Corporation



PM .05 - 2.5


Dylos Corporation



PM .05 - 2.5


Industrial Scientific

Gasbadge Pro


either: H2S, NO2, SO2


Pine Environmental



PM 10



Diffusive Sampler


VOC’s, NO2, SO2, Aldehydes, Ozone, Hydrogen Sulfide, Ammonia, and HCL

$500-$1200 (depending on pollutants measured)


Air Quality Egg


NO2, SO2



Model 3007


PM 1-10



The full report with more details about these air monitors can be found hereThis recent article from the New York Times also gives a helpful overview.  The options for community air monitoring are evolving so quickly that the recommendations here may be obsolete in six months.  A good place to get up to date information on the latest gadgets and studies is CitizenAir

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Robyn KJul 30 2013 12:39 PM

Do the community monitors collect adequate and accurate data to establish if EPA standards are being met?

Diane BaileyJul 30 2013 07:07 PM

Community air monitoring generally doesn't influence or play a role in the official, legal process around meeting federal air standards. The low tech air monitors are aimed at informing residents of pollution levels and providing relative comparisons of air quality in one area vs. another. If enough community monitoring data is gathered to make a case that pollutant levels are severely elevated in a certain area, that could be used to convince regulatory agencies that an official air monitoring station is needed in that area, or at the very least get the attention of those agencies to investigate and address the problem.

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