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, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia
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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Cite this article:

Jayaratne, R., Kuhn, T., Christensen, B., Liu, X., Zing, I., Lamont, R., Dunbabin, M., Maddox, J., Fisher, G. and Morawska, L. (2020). Using a Network of Low-cost Particle Sensors to Assess the Impact of Ship Emissions on a Residential Community. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2754–2764.


  • 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 affect communities in coastal locations, especially near harbours. This study monitored 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 shipping emission plumes are intermittent and fluctuate spatially, they cannot be detected accurately by a single fixed monitor. To overcome this limitation, we deployed seven units of the low-cost KOALA air quality monitor, which measures PM2.5 and CO concentrations in real time and then transmits the data via 3G to an in-cloud database, in a spatially distributed configuration, four at ground level and three on the upper balconies of two high-rise apartment blocks. The time profile showed numerous spikes in the PM2.5 concentration, some of which exceeded 200 µg m–3 for periods of 5–10 min, coinciding with ship movements. On average, the spikes were ~4–5 times above the normal background value (~10 µg m–3). Because of their very short duration, these episodes did not significantly raise the 24-h averages at any of the locations; however, they increased the number of days on which these values exceeded the limit specified by the national air quality standard, resulting in more exceedance days for the monitored area than the nearest air quality station. Although the long-term health effects of elevated PM concentrations are known, few studies have been conducted on the risks of short-term exposures to extreme spikes.

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

Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20 :2754 -2764 .  

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