The EPA has recently progressed a number of strategic initiatives across the coal-fired power stations, to address air emissions and increase transparency around the generation and re-use of coal ash. We are installing PurpleAir sensors to further monitor air particles in warmer, drier conditions predicted over summer.
What is a PurpleAir sensor?
PurpleAir sensors are a low-cost sensing device used for community-based air monitoring. These sensors are small devices, about 8.5cm by 8.5cm by 13cm in size. They are easy to attach to outdoor structures and maintain.
For more information about the sensors, go to the PurpleAir website.
What do PurpleAir sensors measure?
PurpleAir sensors provide us with a picture of regional dust.
They use laser particle counters to count the number of airborne particles in the air in a range of sizes.
These particle counts are then used to estimate PM1.0, PM2.5, and PM10 mass concentration in micrograms per cubic meter air or µg/m3. These particle counts are then used to estimate the PM2.5 air quality index (AQI).
Particulate matter describes solid particles suspended in air, including dust, smoke, pollen, and other organic and inorganic particles. These sensors provide us with a picture of regional dust. They do not identify the source or composition of any dust.
Data provided by the sensors can be impacted by smoke from barbecues, wood heaters, extraction fans and air conditioners. When foggy, the sensors may measure water droplets in fog as particles, causing inaccurate readings.
Where is data displayed?
The community can access air quality data from the sensors in near real time using the PurpleAir interactive map. The map identifies an approximate location of the sensor, as well as providing a public display of the data. You can see other sensors installed around Lake Macquarie in real time on the interactive map.
Can PurpleAir sensors be used to monitor for legislative purposes?
No. PurpleAir sensors are designed to assess air quality in a more accessible way for the community than standard air quality monitoring instruments. These sensors are very useful in reporting current air quality to the community but are not certified for monitoring for legislative purposes.
How else do we monitor air quality?
We have additional monitoring equipment and a range of monitoring techniques to provide a robust and comprehensive understanding of the air quality in the Lake Macquarie region.
PurpleAir sensors complement the existing NSW air quality monitoring sites at Morisset, Lower Hunter and Central Coast. These stations continuously measure particles, visibility, some gaseous pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide), as well as meteorological variables. Data from the station is reported hourly as air quality category ratings and is included in our Lower Hunter and Central Coast regional summary. For more information about these monitoring stations, go to the Environment and Heritage website.