Thursday, 22 September 2016

How to understand PurpleAir sensor readings

Air pollution has a unique signature depending on the source or sources, location, baseline, magnitude of change, and the mechanisms by which it is produced. Here are some simple ways to identify what's happening when reading PurpleAir monitors like what we here.
The first image is from a rural community. Note the good quality air with PM2.5 levels between 1 and 2 with a sudden but short-lived spike to 7.5 at 11:15AM. This is a pattern I have seen before and it represents a dirty diesel truck (most likely a water truck) going past the sensor.
The second image represents normal variation on a good air quality day. 
The third image is from a city with the sensor reflecting activity from a local pulp and paper mill and local traffic.

The last image is a rural community snapshot of a good day punctuated by what happens when a wood stove or fireplace is lit nearby. Note the sudden and dramatic increase in pollution and the saw tooth pattern as the stove get to a higher temperature, but when opened and new wood is introduced, the spike occurs again but it's usually not as high as the initial lighting.



Monday, 19 September 2016

Bearing witness to harm by thorough documentation

Documenting wood smoke pollution is an important and necessary step toward increasing awareness of its behaviour and effects.

Taking photographs and measurements of wood smoke pollution is not a crime - even if uninformed local police departments believe that doing so is a kind of criminal harassment.

For example, Metro Vancouver suggests that the following be pursued if wood smoke from a neighbour is having an impact on you:

- Keeping a wood smoke diary to record the frequency of incidents and their impact on you and your family.

- Talking to your neighbours to see if they are affected and willing to make impact statements.

- Taking photographs or video of the smoke, especially if it enters your property.

- Contacting Metro Vancouver as soon as you observe wood smoke so that an Officer might attend the scene.

- Giving permission to Metro Vancouver to set up monitoring equipment on your property.

The hyper local effects of wood smoke

The PurpleAir PM2.5 network shows in real-time exactly the contribution of wood smoke to the air shed. Here's a snapshot of air quality readings from just a moment ago from one of our sensors on Gabriola Island. Note the readings of the other sensors nearby and in Parksville. This is not industrial pollution, vehicles, road dust or anything else except a neighbour near this sensor who continues to burn wood in spite of the evidence of harm. Note the telltale pattern of combustion with cooling and the addition of more wood.




Also, compare this to the air quality reading from the same minute taken at a monitor close to the Harmac Pulp and Paper Mill in Nanaimo.


Thursday, 8 September 2016

A week of data from one of our monitors

With the PurpleAir monitors that we now have running in Canada, data can be downloaded and analyzed like this. Here's data from one sensor on Gabriola Island for the first week of September 2016 on a minute by minute basis. This chart is based on 12,748 samples.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Live Feed Of Air Quality From Gabriola Island And Parksville

The PurpleAir monitors are working extremely well and provide useful real-time data that looks like this in map form.


By clicking on an individual monitor and going to the Real Time tab you will see trend data like this.


To access our monitors click here.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Article in the Nanaimo News Bulletin about our PurpleAir network

Here's a nice article in the Nanaimo News Bulletin about our new air quality monitoring network. 
"Gabriola Islanders are taking air quality monitoring into their own hands.
The Gabriola Clean Air Society is using citizen scientists in a monitoring network aimed at educating people about how varied air quality can be and what people can do to address pollution.
Four air quality sensors are now on Gabriola Island and one in Parksville."

Saturday, 13 August 2016

We are building Canada's first low-cost, air quality monitoring network

The Gabriola Island Clean Air Society is building Canada's first distributed, low-cost, air quality monitoring network using citizen scientists. This technology comes from PurpleAir and it will help achieve the following objectives on our island. First, there is no air quality monitoring done on Gabriola Island on a regular basis. This equipment provides real-time, 24 hour data. Second, the network of monitors may help provide early warning to our fire department and other emergency responders regarding fire threats. Think of it like having smoke detectors in your home but in this case in your community. Third, a new proposal to create five anchorages for large ships off the shores of the island means that this network will provide baseline data on existing air quality plus track any changes resulting from ship activity. Fourth, the network will also allow us to understand more fully the relative contribution of off-island point sources of air pollution including an active pulp and paper operation in Nanaimo. Lastly, the network of sensors can help identify pollution hotspots from residential activities including illegal outdoor burning, garbage incineration, and hazardous domestic woodburning practices - all of which have an indisputable adverse impact on human health and the environment. We have two monitors operating currently and plan to have several more over time. Please contact us at gabriolacleanair@gmail.com for more information or if you would like to buy/host a monitor. You can see results from the monitors here