EPA research improves air quality information for the public on the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Air sensors, more portable and easier to use than conventional regulatory air monitors, have become increasingly popular for measuring air pollution across the United States, particularly during wildfires. Researchers and communities have used air sensors to fill gaps in understanding local air quality. However, these sensors can often incorrectly estimate pollutant levels compared to regulatory-grade monitors. EPA researchers want to make it easier to compare the data from air sensors with data from highly accurate monitors. To do this, they have collocated, or placed sensors side-by-side with accurate regulatory monitors, in several locations throughout the country.

One widely used sensor type, the PurpleAir, was tested at more than 70 locations throughout the United States by EPA researchers and more than 30 state, local, and tribal air agency partners. While there are several options for air sensors on the market, the popularity of PurpleAir sensors meant the researchers could tap into a widespread sensor network spanning the country. Using this data, EPA researchers developed a mathematical equation, called a “correction equation,” to adjust the air sensor data, making the making the data more accurate and comparable to the regulatory network.

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