Laboratory Evaluation and Calibration of Three Low-Cost Particle Sensors for Particulate Matter Measurement


Particle sensors offer significant advantages of compact size and low cost, and have recently drawn great attention for usage as portable monitors measuring particulate matter mass concentrations. However, most sensor systems have not been thoroughly evaluated with standardized calibration protocols, and their data quality is not well documented. In this work, three low-cost particle sensors based on light scattering (Shinyei PPD42NS, Samyoung DSM501A, and Sharp GP2Y1010AU0F) were evaluated by calibration methods adapted from the US EPA 2013 Air Sensor Workshop recommendations. With a SidePak (TSI Inc., St. Paul, MN, USA), a scanning mobility particle sizer (TSI Inc.), and an AirAssure™ PM2.5 Indoor Air Quality Monitor (TSI Inc.), which itself relies on a GP2Y1010AU0F sensor as reference instruments, six performance aspects were examined: Linearity of response, precision of measurement, limit of detection, dependence on particle composition, dependence on particle size, and relative humidity and temperature influences. This work found that: (a) all three sensors demonstrated high linearity against SidePak measured concentrations, with R2 values higher than 0.8914 in the particle concentration range of 0-1000 µg/m3, and the linearity depended on the studied range of particle concentrations; (b) the standard deviations of the sensors varied from 15 to 90 µg/m3 for a concentration range of 0-1000 µg/m3 ; (c) the outputs of all three sensors depended highly on particle composition and size, resulting in as high as 10 times difference in the sensor outputs; and (d) humidity affected the sensor response. This article provides further recommendations for applications of the three tested sensors.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This work was partially supported by a grant from National Science Foundation (NSF CBET 1437933).

Keywords and Phrases

Air quality; Calibration; Costs; Indoor air pollution; Light scattering; Particle size; Quality control; Calibration protocols; Laboratory evaluation; Linearity of response; Particle composition; Particle concentrations; Reference instruments; Relative humidity and temperatures; Scanning mobility particle sizer; Particles (particulate matter); Air monitor; Air quality; Analytical parameters; Analyzer; Article; Calibration; Chemical composition; Concentration (parameters); Cost utility analysis; Evaluation study; Humidity; Laboratory test; Light scattering; Limit of detection; Linearity of response; Measurement accuracy; Particle composition; Particle sensor; Particle size; Particulate matter; Priority journal; Sensor; Temperature sensitivity

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0278-6826; 1521-7388

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2015 American Association for Aerosol Research, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2015