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Title: Studies of urban air quality using electrochemical based sensor instruments
Author: Popoola, Olalekan Abdul Muiz
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 4826
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2012
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Poor air quality has been projected to be the world’s top cause of environmental premature mortality by 2050 surpassing poor sanitation and dirty water (IGBP / IGAC press release, 2012 ). One of the major challenges of air quality management is how to adequately quantify both the spatial and temporal variations of pollutants for the purpose of implementing necessary mitigation measures. The work described in this thesis aims to address this problem using novel electrochemical based air quality (AQ) sensors. These instruments are shown to provide cost effective, portable, reliable, indicative measurements for urban air quality assessment as well as for personal exposure studies. Three principal pollutants CO, NO and NO2 are simultaneously measured in each unit of the AQ instrument including temperature / RH measurements as well as GPS (for time and position) and GPRS for data transmission. Laboratory studies showed that the electrochemical sensor nodes can be highly sensitive, showing linear response during calibration tests at ppb level (0-160 ppb). The instrumental detection limits were found to be < 4 ppb (CO and NO) and < 1 ppb for NO2 with fast response time equivalent to t90 < 20 s. Several field studies were carried out involving deployment of both the mobile and static electrochemical sensor nodes. Results from some short-term studies in four different cities including Cambridge (UK), London (UK), Valencia (Spain) and Lagos (Nigeria) are presented. The measurements in these cities represent snapshot of the pollution levels, the stark contrast between the pollution level especially CO (mean mixing ratio of 16 ppm over 3 hrs) in Lagos and the other three cities is a reflection of the poor air quality in that part of the world. Results from long-term AQ monitoring using network of 46 static AQ sensors were used to characterise pollution in different environments ranging from urban to semi-urban and rural locations. By coupling meteorological information (wind measurements) with pollution data, pollution sources, and phenomena like the street canyon effect can be studied. Results from the long-term study also revealed that siting of the current fixed monitoring stations can fail to represent the actual air quality distribution and may therefore be unrepresentative. This work has shown the capability of electrochemical based AQ sensors in complementing the existing fixed site monitors thus demonstrating an emerging measurement paradigm for air quality monitoring and regulation, source attribution and human exposure studies.
Supervisor: Jones, Roderic. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Urban air quality ; Real-time measurements ; Exposure studies ; Pollution monitoring ; Electrochemical sensors ; Nitrogen oxides (NOX) ; Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) ; Nitrogen monoxide (NO) ; Carbon monoxide (CO)