Use of electrochemical sensors for measurement of air pollution: correcting interference response and validating measurements
- 1Center for Aerosol and Cloud Chemistry, Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA 01821, USA
- 2Department of Chemistry, Connecticut College, New London, CT 06320, USA
- 3Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
Abstract. The environments in which we live, work, and play are subject to enormous variability in air pollutant concentrations. To adequately characterize air quality (AQ), measurements must be fast (real time), scalable, and reliable (with known accuracy, precision, and stability over time). Lower-cost air-quality-sensor technologies offer new opportunities for fast and distributed measurements, but a persistent characterization gap remains when it comes to evaluating sensor performance under realistic environmental sampling conditions. This limits our ability to inform the public about pollution sources and inspire policy makers to address environmental justice issues related to air quality. In this paper, initial results obtained with a recently developed lower-cost air-quality-sensor system are reported. In this project, data were acquired with the ARISense integrated sensor package over a 4.5-month time interval during which the sensor system was co-located with a state-operated (Massachusetts, USA) air quality monitoring station equipped with reference instrumentation measuring the same pollutant species. This paper focuses on validating electrochemical (EC) sensor measurements of CO, NO, NO2, and O3 at an urban neighborhood site with pollutant concentration ranges (parts per billion by volume, ppb; 5 min averages, ±1σ): [CO] = 231 ± 116 ppb (spanning 84–1706 ppb), [NO] = 6.1 ± 11.5 ppb (spanning 0–209 ppb), [NO2] = 11.7 ± 8.3 ppb (spanning 0–71 ppb), and [O3] = 23.2 ± 12.5 ppb (spanning 0–99 ppb). Through the use of high-dimensional model representation (HDMR), we show that interference effects derived from the variable ambient gas concentration mix and changing environmental conditions over three seasons (sensor flow-cell temperature = 23.4 ± 8.5 °C, spanning 4.1 to 45.2 °C; and relative humidity = 50.1 ± 15.3 %, spanning 9.8–79.9 %) can be effectively modeled for the Alphasense CO-B4, NO-B4, NO2-B43F, and Ox-B421 sensors, yielding (5 min average) root mean square errors (RMSE) of 39.2, 4.52, 4.56, and 9.71 ppb, respectively. Our results substantiate the potential for distributed air pollution measurements that could be enabled with these sensors.