A Distributed Network of 100 Black Carbon Sensors for 100 Days of Air Quality Monitoring in West Oakland, California

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Journal Article

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Ambient particulate matter (PM) pollution is a major environmental health risk in urban areas. Dense networks of low-cost air quality sensors are emerging to characterize the spatially heterogeneous concentrations that are typical of urban settings, but are not adequately captured using traditional regulatory monitors at central sites. In this study, we present the 100×100 BC Network, a 100-day deployment of low-cost black carbon (BC) sensors across 100 locations in West Oakland, California. This 15 km2community is surrounded by freeways and affected by emissions associated with local port and industrial activities. We assess the reliability of the sensor hardware and data collection systems, and identify modes of failure to both quantify and qualify network performance. We illustrate how dynamic, local emission sources build upon background BC concentrations. BC concentrations varied sharply over short distances (∼100 m) and timespans (∼1 hour), depending on surrounding land use, traffic patterns, and downwind distance from pollution sources. Strong BC concentration fluctuations were periodically observed over the diurnal and weekly cycles, reflecting the impact of localized traffic emissions and industrial facilities in the neighborhood. Overall, the results demonstrate how distributed sensor networks can reveal the complex spatiotemporal dynamics of combustion-related air pollution within urban neighborhoods.


Environmental Science & Technology

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