This article looks into my recent experimentation with portable air quality monitoring.


The theme for World Environment Day 2019 was air pollution, so I decided to get involved by buying a portable air quality monitor and taking some measurements to see what I could find. Here are 3 things that  learned about air quality motioning this week.

1.  Calibration is key

I rarely read the instructions when I buy a new product. I am normally too excited and rush into using it straight away. This is one occasion when reading the instructions is strongly advised.

For the Temtop M2000C monitor that I bought PM is read straight away, with no warm up period.

For CO2 readings there is a 3-minute warm up period. Do not make the mistake I did of rushing to take readings without also performing the 30 minute calibration. My initial impression, is without this calibration period, you will get CO2 readings of roughly double what they actually are.

2. You need multiple readings

You also need multiple readings. One reading at one snapshot in time will only be able to tell you so much.

Even a short experiment that I conducted today along the metropolitan line showed that some of the readings that I was collecting were higher than the otherwise stated air pollution risk of low for London.

So multiple readings over multiple locations over long periods of time are needed to get a full picture of what is actually going on.

3. You can’t manage what you don’t measure

It’s an old management adage that still holds true today. But accurate measurement of air quality in urban areas is key to developing strategies that will solve this problem.

It is reported that there are 100 air quality monitoring stations in London which if you take London’s population to be 8 million, means that there is 1 station for every 80,000 people. To me this doesn’t sound like there is enough and that much more granular data is needed, that is fed back in real time so that people can act upon it.

What you need to know

This article looked into air quality monitoring and my first experience of it this week.

If you are not satisfied with the level of reporting out there, I would definitely recommend buying your own monitor.

Ultimately monitoring is only one side of the coin, but having accurate data to base decisions on is crucial.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done about air quality monitoring?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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