Lawmakers to scrutinize off-the-shelf air pollution sensors

By Sean Reilly | 04/08/2024 06:34 AM EDT

Communities and individuals have increasingly turned to lower-cost devices to fill in gaps.

A person wears a face mask as smoke from wildfires in Canada cause hazy conditions in New York City on June 7, 2023.

Canadian wildfire smoke spread down to New York City in 2023. Lower-cost air quality sensors have been utilized to monitor wildfire smoke. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

As the popularity of relatively cheap air pollution sensors continues to soar, a Senate panel will be examining both their reliability and the underlying technology this week.

More broadly, the Wednesday hearing from the Environment and Public Works Committee will also explore “the opportunities and challenges” to obtaining accurate data about local air quality, according to a brief synopsis.

The witnesses will include Omar Hammad, a Congressional Research Service analyst; Bill Obermann, a Denver-area air quality regulator; and Anne Austin, who served as acting EPA air chief during part of former President Donald Trump’s administration.


In an email, Obermann told E&E News that he will discuss the city of Denver’s Love My Air program, which focuses on “making real-time air pollution data available to the public and supplementing it with education and outreach on air quality and health.”