Assessing air quality through citizen science

17 March 2020

Article: 54/1107

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report provides an overview of low-cost devices that citizens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can use to measure local air pollution levels.

The report addresses the following points:

  • how such devices have been used by citizen science initiatives to answer questions about air quality 
  • how low-cost passive air pollutant samplers and air quality sensors work 
  • what the reliability of the different devices in measuring air quality is 
  • how these devices can be used by individuals, within networks and on information service platforms 
  • how such low-cost devices are stimulating new approaches to addressing air quality issues

The report demonstrates that citizen science initiatives can produce useful information about local air quality. This data may be used, for example, to improve official air quality models used to estimate pollution levels and identify suitable actions to improve air quality. The EEA do caution that the various types of measuring devices each have different advantages and disadvantages, and users should be aware of their limitations, such as low-cost sensors potentially lacking the capacity to measure very high or very low pollutant concentrations.

Source: EEA, 12 March 2020