Published: 07 July 2016

Research highlights potential of low-cost air pollution sensors

Surrey academic Dr Prashant Kumar has published a comprehensive review on managing air pollution in cities through low-cost sensing – and how this could influence the exposure control of city dwellers in future

Exposure to urban air pollution causes significant health problems such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in city dwellers. However, these problems could be better addressed using low-cost air pollution sensors in urban areas, according to research published by Surrey Senior Lecturer, Dr Prashant Kumar.

Dr Kumar, an expert in the field of conventional and emerging air pollutants, has published the most comprehensive review yet of research into low-cost sensors for air pollution monitoring. The research is published in ‘Environment International’, a high profile journal with a five-year impact factor of over 6 (average number of citations received in the last two years).

Air pollution is generally monitored through static monitoring sites, but the high cost of building and maintaining these stations means they cannot be used to capture spatial data and identify pollution hotspots – information that is crucial for the development of robust real-time strategies for effective exposure control.

Dr Kumar’s review highlights that advanced sensing and wireless technology has radically changing the conventional approach, making it possible to deploy several air pollution sensors in an urban area to capture the pollution hotspots in real-time.

Dr Kumar also examines the potential challenges presented by these low-cost air pollution sensors in terms of their manufacture, deployment and how the data they produce can be interpreted and disseminated. The review highlights recommendations to overcome these issues and points to future direction for research.

He said, “I started weaving together ideas on this subject about a year ago. Since it brings together several disciplines, I formed a team of nine well-known academics from institutions in seven countries to add knowledge in specialised areas.”

He added, “It’s hugely satisfying to see the efforts put into this work have paid off. I hope that the scientific community and policy makers will find this piece of research useful in assessing the pros and cons, and the importance, of low-cost sensing for air pollution management in cities.”

Dr Kumar’s article, ‘The rise of low-cost sensing for managing air pollution in cities’ appears in volume 75 of 'Environment International'.


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