Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Andrew Metcalf

Committee Member

Dr. Diana Vanegas

Committee Member

Dr. Mark Schlautman

Committee Member

Dr. Christopher Post


Poor ambient air quality has significant impacts on the environment and human health. Extensive regulation and monitoring has resulted in improvements since the first iteration of the Clean Air Act was passed in 1955. However, work still needs to be done in regard to higher spatial and temporal monitoring. Temporally, sensors used for regulatory purposes often only report every other or every third day. Spatially, they are often spread across vast distances due to cost. The following research is working towards improving the spatiotemporal measurements of particulate matter (PM), specifically in South Carolina. The two methods available for improving the resolution of measurements are low-cost sensors (LCS) and satellite-based instruments. However, both of these instruments have issues that need to be resolved before they can be used to improve surface level PM monitoring. LCS are known to be less accurate and reliable than federal methods sensors and satellite-based instruments do not measure surface level PM only estimate it from measurements of aerosol optical depth (AOD).

To use LCS for monitoring air quality and validation of satellite-based measurements, their performance and weaknesses need to be fully characterized. The first part of this work evaluates the use of LCS with federal sensors from a several months long sampling campaign conducted in Columbia, SC in 2019. During this study three LCS were collocated at a site with federal reference method (FRM) sensors and federal equivalent method (FEM) sensors. The sensor measurements were compared and evaluated for correlation to assess performance and accuracy and evaluated and evaluated to see if there were significant impacts from weather on their performance. The results of the campaign indicated meteorological factors had an impact on measurements at extremes and that LCS, with correction, could have average coefficients of determination of 0.75 with FEM. This suggests that further sampling campaigns would be beneficial in the assessment of LCS performance in areas with varying meteorological conditions.

The second part of this work is evaluating and comparing surface-based measurements, both federal method sensors and LCS, with parameters measured from satellite-based instruments, to improve the understanding of the PM-AOD relationship in SC.

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2024