In December 2019, the Lab’s Air Quality Monitoring team announced it has developed a new lower-cost device that will allow them to provide timely particulate pollution information at more locations throughout the state. Already, eight of the devices, called the SensOR, have been placed at new Air Quality Index sites in Bend, Brookings, Chiloquin, Coos Bay, Florence, Forest Grove, northeast Portland and Redmond.
The team, led by Lance Hochmuth, Dan Johnson and Anthony Barnack, designed the monitor to include a heated inlet to reduce interference from humidity; regulated air sample flow; automated quality control checks; data acquisition and cellular communication. The team spent several months calibrating the SensORs to PM2.5 federal reference instruments to ensure the AQI is accurate and reliable.
“This is really a testament to the resourcefulness and expertise of our lab team. It is due to their hard work and creativity that we are able to provide the public with more accurate data on the quality of the air in their region,” said Ali Mirzakhalili, air quality administrator. “One new SensOR costs approximately $5,000 to $10,000 less than monitors we have purchased in the past. That savings means we can deploy more devices to more areas.”
In 2017, the Oregon Legislature funded monitoring at an additional 30 locations. In July, DEQ obtained a provisional patent from the U.S. Patent Office for the new tool to protect its continued use. DEQ also secured a trademark through the Oregon Secretary of State for the device name.
DEQ expects to install more monitors over the next few months. The goal is to have SensORs at all 30 sites statewide within the next year.
Air Quality Monitoring Manager Tom Roick oversaw the project and was interviewed by several news outlets. Thus far, news articles include KTVZ NBC Channel 21 (Bend), Willamette Week, 1190 KEX Radio (Portland) and The Corvallis Advocate, with more stories expected in the next few weeks.
− Susan C. Mills, public affairs specialist