Performance and deployment of the low-cost sensor SMOG units

November 9th, 2021

Emerging sensor technology provides opportunities to monitor air quality on a much larger geographical scale and with much finer spatial resolution. The challenge with using low-cost air quality sensors is how do they compare with regulatory monitors?

In a recent paper we assessed the performance of the Smoke Observation Gadget (SMOG) during a range of smoke-related episodes.

We conducted side-by-side monitoring of the SMOG units with a regulatory monitor during a peat fire episode in NSW. The event provided a great opportunity to compare the instruments over a long time period and for a wide range of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations. Using the data we developed a smoke-specific calibration curve. We used this curve to correct the SMOG units’ data to better reflect standard instruments.

We tested the suitability of the SMOG units to accurately detect and monitor biomass burning events. We conducted a number of field-based measurements in different locations and under different meteorological conditions.

The data suggest that the SMOG units can be deployed to assess the spatial variability of PM2.5 concentrations in a wide range of locations and conditions.
The study has also shown that the SMOG units provide relevant information about ambient PM2.5 concentrations in an airshed impacted predominantly by biomass burning, provided that an adequate adjustment factor is applied.