Rohan Jayaratne1, Tara Kuhn1, Bryce Christensen1, Xiaoting Liu1, Isak Zing1, Riki Lamont2, Matthew Dunbabin2, Jill Maddox3, Gavin Fisher4, Lidia Morawska This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1


1 International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology
2 Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
3 Jill Maddox Consulting, Port Melbourne 3207, Australia
4 Environment Protection Authority, Melbourne, Victoria


Received: June 2, 2020
Revised: August 7, 2020
Accepted: August 7, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

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  • Network of seven monitors used to study effect of ship emissions on air quality.
  • Ships produced PM5 spikes 4 to 5 times higher than background values.
  • Most PM5 spikes coincided with ship movements.
  • However they did not significantly affect the 24-hour average values.


Shipping emissions are known to have an impact on communities in coastal locations, especially near harbours. This study was carried out to monitor the air quality near the premier cruise ship terminal in Melbourne, over a continuous period of 98 days during the peak cruise ship season in Australia. As these emission plumes are intermittent and fluctuate spatially, a single fixed monitor is not suitable for their detection. To overcome this limitation, seven low-cost KOALA air quality monitors were spatially distributed, 4 at ground level and 3 on the upper balconies of two high-rise apartment blocks. The KOALA monitor measures PM2.5 and CO concentration in real time and transmits the data through the 3G network to an in-cloud database. The time profile showed numerous very high short-term PM2.5 concentration spikes coinciding with ship movements, some of them exceeding 200 μg m-3 for periods of 5-10 min. On average, the PM2.5 concentration during spike episodes was about 4-5 times over the normal background value of around10 μg m-3. As they lasted for very short times, these spikes did not contribute significantly to the overall 24-hour average values at any of the locations. However, the number of days when the latter value exceeded the national air quality standard was higher than at the nearest air quality station. We attribute this to the high pollution spikes. While the long-term health effects of elevated PM concentrations are known, there have been very few studies on the effect of short-term exposures to high spikes.


Keywords: Low-cost sensor, Particle pollution, PM2.5, Ship emissions, Sensor network, Air quality

Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20 :-.  

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