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The evaluation and optimization of calibration methods for low-cost particulate matter sensors: Inter-comparison between fixed and mobile methods

Qin, Xiaoliang, Hou, Lujian, Gao, Jian, Si, Shuchun
The Science of the total environment 2020 v.715 pp. 136791
air, air pollution control, air quality, data quality, models, monitoring, particulates, relative humidity, China
With the development of the air pollution control, the low-cost sensors are widely used in air quality monitoring, while the data quality of these sensors is always the most concern for users. In this study, data from nine air monitoring stations with standard PM instruments were used as reference and compared with the data of mobile and fixed PM sensors in Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province, China. Data quality of PM sensors was checked by the cross-comparison among standard method, fixed and mobile sensors. And the impacts of relative humidity and size distribution (PM₂.₅/PM₁₀) on the performance of PM sensors were evaluated as well. To optimize the calibration method for both fixed and mobile PM sensors, a two-step model was designed, in which the RH and PM₂.₅/PM₁₀ ratio were both used as input parameters. We firstly calibrated the sensors with five independent models, and then all the calibrated data were linearly fitted by the LR-final model. In comparison with standard instruments, the LR-final model increased the R² values of the PM₂.₅ and PM₁₀ measured by fixed sensors from 0.89 and 0.79 to 0.98 and 0.97, respectively. The R² values of PM₂.₅ and PM₁₀ measured by the mobile sensors both increased to 0.99 from 0.79 and 0.62. Overall, the two-step calibration model appeared to be a promising approach to solve the poor performance of low-cost sensors.