Field and laboratory evaluations of the low-cost Plantower particulate matter sensor.


Levy Zamora M, Xiong F, Gentner D, Kerkez B, Kohrman-Glaser J, Koehler K. Field and laboratory evaluations of the low-cost plantower particulate matter sensor. Environmental Science & Technology 2018;53(2):838-849.


Due to the rapid development of low-cost air-quality sensors, a rigorous scientific evaluation has not been conducted for many available sensors. We evaluated three Plantower PMS A003 sensors when exposed to eight particulate matter (PM) sources (i.e., incense, oleic acid, NaCl, talcum powder, cooking emissions, and monodispersed polystyrene latex spheres under controlled laboratory conditions and also residential air and ambient outdoor air in Baltimore, MD). The PM2.5 sensors exhibited a high degree of precision and R2 values greater than 0.86 for all sources, but the accuracy ranged from 13 to >90% compared with reference instruments. The sensors were most accurate for PM with diameters below 1 μm, and they poorly measured PM in the 2.5–5 μm range. The accuracy of the sensors was dependent on relative humidity (RH), with decreases in accuracy at RH > 50%. The sensors were able to produce meaningful data at low and high temperatures and when in motion, as it would be if utilized for outdoor or personal monitoring applications. It was most accurate in environments with polydispersed particle sources and may not be useful in specialized environments or experiments with narrow distributions of PM or aerosols with a large proportion of coarse PM.