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“Low cost sensor networks could be the answer to dense air quality monitoring in the future”

By on June 19, 2021 0


MUMBAI: Expect even better air quality in the near future as the state offers more precise air sensors to tackle pollution in the Mumbai area. An MPCB-IITKanpur-Bloomberg study found that newer low-cost pollution or air quality sensors are 85% more efficient than previous monitors. The MPCB and other experts recommend making the Mumbai region’s surveillance network more dense and sensitive to pollution by monitoring additional hot spots. The move, they say, could help the administration take immediate corrective action to keep the air clean.

Twenty low-cost sensors developed by indigenous start-ups showed nearly 85-90% accuracy over regulatory grade monitors during a seven-month pilot project led by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in partnership with Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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These were part of a fleet of 40 low-cost sensors developed by four different start-ups and deployed for the study. The results reveal that the sensors of three start-ups recorded a percentage error (measured against the actual value measured by the CAAQMS) of less than 25% for the uncalibrated values. After calibration, the error was reduced to less than 15% for three types of sensors and to 20% for the fourth type.

The study was conducted between November 2020 and May 2021 when 40 low-cost monitoring sensors were installed alongside MPCB’s 15 existing Continuous (Real-time) Ambient Air Quality (CAAQMS) monitoring stations. – Colaba, Worli, Sion, Bandra, Vile Parle, Kurla, International Airport, Powai, Kandivali, Mulund, Borivali, Vasai, Mahape, Nerul, Kalyan.

Dr VM Motghare, Co-Director (Air Quality) of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, said: “We (Maharashtra) have the highest number of non-compliant cities and macro-planning is needed to monitor the implementation of the national air purification program. So the data from these low-cost sensors will really help us identify hot spots in the state. ”

Sensors from Respirer Living Sciences, Airveda Technologies, Personal Air Quality Systems (PAQS) and Oizom Instruments have been deployed alongside MPCB’s air quality BAM (Beta Attenuation Monitoring). Low cost, locally created air quality sensors can produce data in 1 minute for PM2.5 (particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in size) and PM10 (particles measuring less than 10 microns in size ). The sensors were solar powered and featured real-time communication for data transmission.

Professor SN Tripathi, Head of Civil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and National Coordinator, National Knowledge Network, National Clean Air Program, said, “The future of air quality monitoring lies in a hybrid approach combining regulatory grade monitors and sensors to provide high temporal frequency hyperlocal data. The results of the Mumbai sensor experiment clearly demonstrate that local sensor technology is ready to be deployed on a large scale for air quality monitoring in the country.

The results of the study were presented on Friday during a webinar with participants from the Ministry of the Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, central and national control commissions. pollution, technical experts, media and civil society to discuss the way forward under the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) which plans to expand the air quality monitoring network in the country.

Sudhir Srivastava, Chairman of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, said: “We have about 100 monitors for the vast area of ​​the state and it is an uneven network when we really need a very dense network, but we realize that the cost of regulatory grade sensors is a prohibitive factor. Thanks to the study, we now have a lot of data and this allows us to compare it (low cost sensor data) with regulatory grade monitors. The study also enables tech companies to improve their sensors and will provide us with an objective method to build confidence in the limits of sensor data.

It can be mentioned that some coastal places like Colaba also recorded high pollution levels with a PM 2.5 concentration of 56 ug / m3 during the winter months of December. The monthly average was highest at 124 ug / m3 in Kalyan in January. The study’s findings opened up the possibility of expanding the country’s surveillance network at a fraction of the cost. While regulatory grade monitors could cost over Rs 20 lakhs, the start-up has built small sensors costing around Rs 60,000.

It is estimated that 4000 continuous monitoring stations are required to spatially, temporally and statistically represent PM2.5 pollution in urban and rural areas of India. The country currently has 286 regulatory-grade continuous monitors and 818 manual monitoring stations.

Naresh Pal Gangwar, co-secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change and chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board, said: “The outcome of this study will be a very useful way forward in this. technology and requires more deliberation on the availability, accuracy of data. and meet data quality objectives.

Commenting on the potential for scaling up as revealed by the results of this study, Priya Shankar, India Climate and Environment Program Director, Bloomberg Philanthropies said: “Air pollution is having a negative impact. on public health, economic productivity and the environment. These new sensors have the potential to evolve and, in combination with traditional methods, provide fine-grained data to help us tackle air pollution.


Strong points
The study was conducted between November 2020 and May 2021 when 40 low-cost monitoring sensors were installed alongside MPCB’s 15 existing Continuous (Real-time) Ambient Air Quality (CAAQMS) monitoring stations. – Colaba, Worli, Sion, Bandra, Vile Parle, Kurla, International Airport, Powai, Kandivali, Mulund, Borivali, Vasai, Mahape, Nerul, Kalyan.

The results of the study opened up the possibility of expanding not only the Mumbai region but also the country’s surveillance network at a fraction of the cost. While regulatory grade monitors could cost over Rs 20 lakhs, the start-up has built small sensors costing around Rs 60,000.

It is estimated that 4000 continuous monitoring stations are required to spatially, temporally and statistically represent PM2.5 pollution in urban and rural areas of India. The country currently has 286 regulatory-grade continuous monitors and 818 manual monitoring stations.



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