EU Science Hub

Measuring air pollution with low-cost sensors

Low-cost air quality sensors are attracting more and more attention. They offer air pollution monitoring at a lower cost than conventional methods, making air quality monitoring possible in many more locations. Too good to be true? At the current stage of development, unfortunately yes. Measurements by low-cost sensors are often of minor and questionable data quality than the results from official monitoring stations as carried out by EU Member States in accordance with European legislation and International standards. Sensors may become a game changer in monitoring air pollution, traffic-management, personal exposure and health assessment, citizen science and air quality assessment in developing countries. This brochure explains our current understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of sensors. Technological progress will hopefully change the picture of this summary of sensor performance in the next few years. It is also a plea to evaluate and validate sensors with field and laboratory tests in order to understand the meaning of and uncertainties in their signals.