This work aims at understanding whether a citizen science-based monitoring system could be adequate to detect the effects, in terms of air quality, of solid and liquid fuel combustion for household heating. Citizen science is known to be able to improve the coverage and resolution of measurements at a very low cost. On the other hand, it also has severe limitations. Since low-cost sensors are to be used, measurements are problematic in terms of precision and accuracy. In order to test these aspects, we developed a system named COCAL that supports all the phases of air quality monitoring, from data acquisition, georeferencing, transmission, and processing up to web mapping. In this work, we focus on particulate matter. To address the limitations of the citizen science approach, we carefully tested all the parts of the system and, in particular, the performances of the low-cost sensors. We highlighted that their precision is acceptable, while their accuracy is insufficient. Measurements taken within such a paradigm cannot be used, therefore, as reference values. They can be used, instead, as relative values, in order to identify and to map trends, anomalies and hotspots. We used COCAL extensively in the city of Trieste and were able to identify different behaviors in different areas of the city. In the city center, PM values increase constantly during the day. In the rural suburbs of the city, we observed that PM values are low during the day but increase very rapidly after 5 p.m. It is important to note that, in the city center, household heating is based almost completely on natural gas. In the rural areas, household heating is generally based on wood burning stoves or liquid and solid fuel. A possible explanation of the different behavior between the two areas can then be related to commuters living in the rural areas but working in the city center. When they return home in the evening, they switch on the heating systems triggering the release of large quantities of particulate matter. We were able to map peaks of particulate matter values and highlight that they are initially located within the village centers to later propagate to the areas around them. The possibility of mapping air quality with the coverage and resolution we were able to obtain within a citizen science approach is very encouraging. This can be very helpful in understanding the impact that liquid and solid fuel combustion can have on the environment and human health. In addition, we think that this opportunity can be very important considering the current geopolitical situation where a (hopefully only temporary) shift toward pollutant fuels is expected in the near future.

First Results of the Application of a Citizen Science-Based Mobile Monitoring System to the Study of Household Heating Emissions

Diviacco, P
Conceptualization
;
Iurcev, M;Carbajales, RJ;Potleca, N
2022

Abstract

This work aims at understanding whether a citizen science-based monitoring system could be adequate to detect the effects, in terms of air quality, of solid and liquid fuel combustion for household heating. Citizen science is known to be able to improve the coverage and resolution of measurements at a very low cost. On the other hand, it also has severe limitations. Since low-cost sensors are to be used, measurements are problematic in terms of precision and accuracy. In order to test these aspects, we developed a system named COCAL that supports all the phases of air quality monitoring, from data acquisition, georeferencing, transmission, and processing up to web mapping. In this work, we focus on particulate matter. To address the limitations of the citizen science approach, we carefully tested all the parts of the system and, in particular, the performances of the low-cost sensors. We highlighted that their precision is acceptable, while their accuracy is insufficient. Measurements taken within such a paradigm cannot be used, therefore, as reference values. They can be used, instead, as relative values, in order to identify and to map trends, anomalies and hotspots. We used COCAL extensively in the city of Trieste and were able to identify different behaviors in different areas of the city. In the city center, PM values increase constantly during the day. In the rural suburbs of the city, we observed that PM values are low during the day but increase very rapidly after 5 p.m. It is important to note that, in the city center, household heating is based almost completely on natural gas. In the rural areas, household heating is generally based on wood burning stoves or liquid and solid fuel. A possible explanation of the different behavior between the two areas can then be related to commuters living in the rural areas but working in the city center. When they return home in the evening, they switch on the heating systems triggering the release of large quantities of particulate matter. We were able to map peaks of particulate matter values and highlight that they are initially located within the village centers to later propagate to the areas around them. The possibility of mapping air quality with the coverage and resolution we were able to obtain within a citizen science approach is very encouraging. This can be very helpful in understanding the impact that liquid and solid fuel combustion can have on the environment and human health. In addition, we think that this opportunity can be very important considering the current geopolitical situation where a (hopefully only temporary) shift toward pollutant fuels is expected in the near future.
air quality
particulate matter
low-cost sensors
citizen science
crowdsourcing
liquid fuels
solid fuels
residential wood combustion
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.14083/14782
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