Plenary Presentations

Low Cost Air Quality Sensor Challenges & Hopes

Wednesday, May 11th, 8:15 a.m. PT

Come hear stories of what’s working well with air sensors and what is needed from different perspectives: Community, Government, Tribal, Academic, Industry. You’ll hear stories and ideas from people that represent these different sectors that are using air sensors for a wide range of applications. And more importantly, what improvements will make air sensors more policy-relevant, easier to use, more affordable, and accessible. This panel will illuminate how these improvements will intersect and how we can move forward, developing collaborative opportunities supportive of the needs of all stakeholders. 

Moderated by: Gwen Smith, Founder & Executive Director, CHARSS, Tim Dye, TD Environmental Services, Jessa Ellenburg, 2B Technologies

  • Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan, Dean (Research) & Director, ICMR Center for Advanced Research on Air Quality, Climate and Health, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India (View Presentation PDF)
  • Ernest Omar Mohammad, Executive Director, LowCountry Alliance for Model Communities (View Presentation PDF)
  • Dr. Meiling Gao, Chief Operating Officer, Clarity Movement Co. (View Presentation PDF)
  • George Werito, President, Ojo Encino Chapter, Navajo Nation
  • Dr. Phil Fine, Principal Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy, US EPA
  • Deo Okure, Air Quality Scientist & Programme Manager, AirQo (View Presentation PDF)

Sensors in Smoke: Reducing Exposure to PM

Thursday, May 12th, 10:50 a.m. PT

This plenary session will focus on the use of low-cost sensors in reducing exposure to particulate matter from wildfires and biomass burning. The purpose is to discuss the use of (low-cost) sensors or sensor networks in evaluating the health impacts of exposure, to evaluate cleaner-air shelters and to assess and mitigate residential biomass burning.

Today, wildfire smoke is one of the biggest sources of PM2.5, but little is known about how short-term exposure affects cognitive function. Ana Rappold from the US EPA will start the conversation of by reviewing the effects of short-term PM2.5 and wildfire smoke exposure on cognitive performance in US adults. Scores from a brain-training game designed to measure attention were obtained for 10,228 adults in the contiguous United States (US). They estimated daily and sub-daily PM2.5 exposure through a data fusion of observations from US Environmental Protection Agency and PurpleAir monitors. Daily smoke exposure in the western US were obtained from estimates of smoke plume density using satellite images. A longitudinal repeated measures design with linear mixed effects models was used to test for associations between short-term exposure metrics and attention score, overall and by age, gender, user behavior, and region. It was found that there is increasing evidence that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) adversely impacts cognitive performance. Our results indicate that short-term exposure to PM2.5 and wildfire smoke adversely impacts attention in adults, but further research is needed to elucidate these relationships.

NILU Senior Scientist, Nuria Castell will follow the discussion with an overview of the use of low-cost sensors for assessment of contributions of local heating as a basis of management by the municipalities. 

Dan Johnson from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will discuss PM2.5 monitoring network expansion using low-cost optical sensors. In 2017, the Oregon legislature approved funding to expand the state’s PM2.5 monitoring network with 30 additional sites for informational use.  This network has been in operation since 1990, and was originally composed of Radiance nephelometers.  Oregon DEQ’s air monitoring section developed the SensOR™, utilizing low-cost optical sensor technology, and a strategy based on their experience with nephelometers and the correlation between light scattering and estimated PM2.5 concentrations.  To date, the network has nearly doubled in size, and plans are underway to add 20 more sites.  This is a work in progress (emphasis on work), as we continue to refine and implement quality control and quality assurance procedures to produce defensible data of known quality. 

Moderated by: Dr. Susan Stone, US EPA, Alena Bartenova, NILU

  • Dr. Ana Rappold, Clinical Research Branch Chief, Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, US EPA (View Presentation PDF)
  • Dan Johnson, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
  • Dr. Nuria Castell, Senior Scientist, NILU-Norwegian Institute for Air Research (View Presentation PDF)
  • Dr. Josh Apte, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley (View Presentation PDF)

Personalizing Exposure and Advancing Precision Environmental Health Using Air Sensors

Thursday, May 12th, 4:45 p.m. PT

Air pollution exposure is the largest environmental risk factor in the global burden of disease, with strong spatial patterning and systemic inequities leading to persistent environmental health disparities. Personal exposure to air pollution is highly variable in space and time and depends on human time-activity and mobility patterns, behaviors, indoor and outdoor sources. While most studies have focused on outdoor, regulated criteria air pollutants, humans are exposed to mixtures from various sources with distinct physiochemical properties and toxicity profiles. The indoor microenvironment in particular contributes significantly to personal exposure yet is often ignored, introducing exposure measurement error. Advances in air sensors, coupled with personal monitoring, mobile Health tools, and geospatial technologies have greatly increased our ability to assess highly personalized and source-specific exposures in context, within actual activity spaces. This talk will present an overview of air sensor and mobile Health applications for personalizing exposure and understanding health effects. The ultimate goal is to advance precision environmental health, design targeted interventions, and reduce health disparities.

Presented by: 

Dr. Rima Habre, Associate Professor of Environmental Health and Spatial Sciences, University of Southern California

How and why cities are using new sensor technologies: successes, challenges, and funding to achieve air quality goals

Friday, May 13th, 8:05 a.m. PT

C40 Cities and Clean Air Fund share how cities use new sensor technologies to monitor air quality and attain environmental goals; and reflect on what funding opportunities support their accomplishments.  The panel will focus on three themes summarising cities' successes and challenges, to inform future sensor deployments. The Clean Air Fund will share key steps cities and philanthropic organisations can take to help grow and sustain the progress shared by panellists and the Breathe London pilot project. Stay for an open discussion with the audience of “Where do we go from here,” following the panel.

Moderated by: Ethan McMahon, Senior Manager, World Research Institute & Zoe Chafe, Technical Lead, Air Quality at C40

  • George Castelar, Head of Air Quality and Environmental Assessment Division, Municipality of Lima
  • Fantu Kifle, Team Leader, Addis Ababa Environmental protection and Green Development Commission
  • Aubrey Burgess, Love My Air Program Manager, City and County of Denver, Colorado (View Presentation PDF)
  • Pedro Oliveira, Technical Coordinator and Advisor of Environment and Energy, Lisbon City Council 
  • Matt Whitney, Portfolio Manager, Clean Air Fund

(View Presentation PDF)