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The Potential of Commercial Sensors for Spatially Dense Short-term Air Quality Monitoring Based on Multiple Short-term Evaluations of 30 Sensor Nodes in Urban Areas in Korea

Category: Urban Air Quality

Volume: 20 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 369-380
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.03.0143
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To cite this article:
Park, H.S., Kim, R.E., Park, Y.M., Hwang, K.C., Lee, S.H., Kim, J.J., Choi, J.Y., Lee, D.G., Chang, L.S. and Choi, W. (2020). The Potential of Commercial Sensors for Spatially Dense Short-term Air Quality Monitoring Based on Multiple Short-term Evaluations of 30 Sensor Nodes in Urban Areas in Korea. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 369-380. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.03.0143.

Ho-Seon Park1, Ra-Eun Kim1, Yong-Mi Park1, Kyu-Cheol Hwang1, Seung-Hyun Lee1, Jae-Jin Kim2, Jin-Young Choi3, Dae-Gyun Lee3, Lim-Seok Chang3, Wonsik Choi 2

  • 1 Department of Earth Environmental System Science, Pukyong National University, Busan 608-737, Korea
  • 2 Department of Environmental Atmospheric Sciences, Pukyong National University, Busan 608-737, Korea
  • 3 Climate and Air Quality Research Department, National Institute of Environmental Research, Incheon 22689, Korea


  • Low-cost sensors have great potential for air quality monitoring in urban areas.
  • Inter-sensor variations among 30 sensors agreed well in real atmosphere.
  • Sensor and reference instrument agreed well in various meteorological environments.
  • Effective data post-processing is required for air quality sensor network.


Recently, highly spatially dense air quality monitoring networks using low-cost sensors have been attempted worldwide. However, the quality of data from these sensor networks remains to be validated. This study assessed the potential of low-cost sensors for spatially dense air quality monitoring. Thirty sets of air quality sensor nodes for CO, NO2, O3, PM2.5, and PM10 were custom-built to evaluate their consistency in measurement, both among the sensor nodes and between the sensor node and instruments that use Federal Reference/Equivalent Methods (FRMs/FEMs) in the real atmosphere under two distinctly differing meteorological conditions (summer and winter) in Seoul and Busan, Korea. We found that commercially available low-cost sensors possess great potential as monitors for short-term air quality studies in urban areas, at least for one-month periods, given that (1) the self-consistency among the 30 sensors was high (R2 > 0.93), (2) the consistency between the sensors and the FRM/FEM instruments was reasonably high (R2 > 0.87 overall for the periods of comparison ), and (3) the consistency both among the sensors and between the sensors and the FRM/FEM instruments remained stable throughout the summer and the winter. However, vigorous data post-processing is needed to obtain reliable air quality data. For longer-term or temporally discontinuous monitoring, several issues must be addressed, including the limited lifetime of sensors, the degradation in sensor performance over time, and the long warm-up times for gaseous pollutant sensors. The O3 sensors required minimal post-processing correction, and the particulate matter and CO sensors agreed well with the FEM instruments after appropriate scale correction, but the NO2 sensors required additional efforts to correct for the effects of meteorological conditions and interfering materials. Overall, our results suggest that when investigating spatiotemporally heterogeneous distributions of air pollutants in various urban environments, a three-dimensional sensor network can be a useful tool for short-term monitoring, as long as data are corrected properly.


Air quality High-resolution pollution monitoring Low-cost sensors Sensor network Spatiotemporal variations

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Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.10.0496