Evaluation of a new low-cost particle sensor as an internet-of-things device for outdoor air quality monitoring

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2022 Nov;72(11):1219-1230. doi: 10.1080/10962247.2022.2093293.


Many low-cost particle sensors are available for routine air quality monitoring of PM2.5, but there are concerns about the accuracy and precision of the reported data, particularly in humid conditions. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the Sensirion SPS30 particulate matter (PM) sensor against regulatory methods for measurement of real-time particulate matter concentrations and to evaluate the effectiveness of the Intelligent AirTM sensor pack for remote deployment and monitoring. To achieve this, we co-located the Intelligent AirTM sensor pack, developed at Clemson University and built around the Sensirion SPS30, to collect data from July 29, 2019, to December 12, 2019, at a regulatory site in Columbia, South Carolina. When compared to the Federal Equivalent Methods, the SPS30 showed an average bias adjusted R2 = 0.75, mean bias error of -1.59, and a root mean square error of 2.10 for 24-hour average trimmed measurements over 93 days, and R2 = 0.57, mean bias error of -1.61, and a root mean square error of 3.029, for 1-hr average trimmed measurements over 2300 hours when the central 99% of data was retained with a data completeness of 75% or greater. The Intelligent AirTM sensor pack is designed to promote long-term deployment and includes a solar panel and battery backup, protection from the elements, and the ability to upload data via a cellular network. Overall, we conclude that the SPS30 PM sensor and the Intelligent AirTM sensor pack have the potential for greatly increasing the spatial density of particulate matter measurements, but more work is needed to understand and calibrate sensor measurements.Implications: This work adds to the growing body of research that indicates that low-cost sensors of particulate matter (PM) for air quality monitoring has a promising future, and yet much work is left to be done. This work shows that the level of data processing and filtering effects how the low-cost sensors compare to existing federal reference and equivalence methods: more data filtering at low PM levels worsens the data comparison, while longer time averaging improves the measurement comparisons. Improvements must be made to how we handle, calibrate, and correct PM data from low-cost sensors before the data can be reliably used for air quality monitoring and attainment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Particulate Matter / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter