2016 Progress Report: Democratization of Measurement and Modeling Tools for Community Actionon Air Quality, and Improved Spatial Resolution of Air Pollutant Concentrations

EPA Grant Number: R836286
Title: Democratization of Measurement and Modeling Tools for Community Actionon Air Quality, and Improved Spatial Resolution of Air Pollutant Concentrations
Investigators: Ramachandran, Subramanian , Pandis, Spyros N. , Presto, Albert , Downs, Julie
Current Investigators: Presto, Albert , Pandis, Spyros N. , Ramachandran, Subramanian
Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2019 (Extended to April 30, 2021)
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2016 through April 30,2017
Project Amount: $749,945
RFA: Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air , Particulate Matter


  1. Develop portable bipollutant PM2.5/gas monitors and stationary multipollutant (PM + 4 criteria gases + VOCs) monitors; characterize their response to different primary and secondary pollutant mixtures; and test the reliability of these monitors under a variety of environmental conditions.

  2. Enable environmental justice and biking communities to monitor their pollutant exposure using portable monitors and a new Pittsburgh Air Quality Map (PAQmap), the interfaces of which will be designed with input from a Community Advisory Board.

  3. Study the interactions between community members and risk information in the form of personal monitoring and interaction with a pollution map.

  4. Examine the spatial representativeness of the existing air pollution monitoring network in Allegheny County using distributed monitoring and both statistical and chemical transport (PMCAMx) modeling.

  5. Examine the effect of community-inspired solutions to reduce air pollution exposure. The Community Advisory Board can suggest “what-if” scenarios for PMCAMx runs such as widespread retrofits of public transport buses with diesel particulate filters and emissions reductions at large industrial sources in Allegheny County.

Progress Summary:

  1. Gas measurements from the “Real-time Affordable Multi-Pollutant” (RAMP) sensors were extensively characterized and new calibration algorithms developed for these low-cost electrochemical gas sensors.

  2. Met-One neighborhood PM (NPM) sensors were evaluated against each other and against a federal-equivalent method TEOM, and found to be most reliable for low-cost air quality monitoring.

  3. RAMPs with Met-One NPMs were deployed in different environmental justice communities (Clairton, Braddock, Millvale.) Coupled with other grants, PI Subramanian and collaborators have expanded the RAMP network in Allegheny County to 35 nodes as of April 30, 2017.

  4. Preliminary results and progress were presented at different workshops and conferences.

Future Activities:

The following activities are planned for Year 2:

  1. Further RAMP deployments to ensure comprehensive coverage of our target communities.

  2. The “risk communication and interface design” (Task 3) will be conducted once the Community Advisory Board is properly constituted (6-8 members) and meetings have been conducted to gain community feedback. Two community members have agreed to participate thus far.

  3. We shall study user behavior (Task 4) after the PAQmap (currently under development) is finalized and RAMP deployments are complete.

  4. Development and evaluation of a portable biopollutant (PM+CO) sensor, which is essential for Task 2.

  5. We shall start network design evaluation (Task 6).

  6. Presentations are planned at the ISES, AAAR and AGU conferences, and we expect to submit 1-2 publications as well.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 21 publications 12 publications in selected types All 12 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Zimmerman N, Presto AA, Kumar SPN, Gu J, Hauryliuk A, Robinson ES, Robinson AL, Subramanian R. Closing the gap on lower cost air quality monitoring:machine learning calibration models to improve low-cost sensor performance. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions August 2017 [In review]. R836286 (2016)
R836286 (Final)
R835873 (2016)
R835873 (2020)
  • Full-text: AMT-Prepublication PDF
  • Abstract: AMT-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    vehicular exhaust, coke ovens, personal exposure, urban pollution

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • 2019 Progress Report
  • Final Report