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How to examine air quality?


How to examine air quality?

Do you know how you can measure air quality on your own? All you need is a suitable air sensor and a basic measuring apparatus. Thanks to them you can easily make precise measurements and draw accurate conclusions about air quality in your house, office, warehouse, or plant.

In this article you will find out:

What is the quality of air in Poland

Polish environmental protection policy works responsively, by way of applying significant restrictions on air pollution emitted in the energy and industrial sectors. At the same time, regulations for emissions in households are not introduced. Because of lack of legal constraints on the use of old furnaces, boilers and solid fuel chimneys, as well as the quality of solid fuels offered on the Polish market, Poland is one of the most polluted countries in the European Union.

Definitely, the biggest issue among all harmful substances in ambient air is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and particulate matter PM10 that consists of molecules less than 10 micrometers in a diameter. Minor fractions of PM2.5 that exceed the norm several times are also significant here. Moreover, large urban agglomerations are affected by the concentration of nitrogen dioxide and benzo[a]pyrene that are several times the norm, too.

Suspended particulate matter PM10

PM10 is a mixture of organic and inorganic substances that consist of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzo[a]pyrene, heavy and transition metals, furans or dioxins. CAFE Directive assumes the maximum permissible annual average concentration of 40 µg/m3 for PM10 and 50 µg/m3 for daily PM10. The Directive allows for the average daily concentration to be exceeded for a maximum of 35 days per year. In 2011 air quality measurement conducted in 400 measuring stations showed that as many as 6 cities from Poland were in the top ten most polluted cities from the entire UE.

Suspended particulate matter PM2.5

Being a finer type of suspended particulate matter, PM2.5 is particularly dangerous to health because the particles are small and can easily penetrate pulmonary alveoli and thus reach the bloodstream. According to the CAFE Directive, the annual average concentration of PM2.5 cannot exceed 25 µg/m3. Neither EU nor domestic regulations define permissible daily concentrations. According to the WHO data, out of the 50 European cities in which air quality was the worst in terms of concentration of PM2.5, as many as 33 were in Poland, with central and southern Poland being most polluted.

How does the Inspectorate of Environmental Protection measure particulate matter suspended in air?

In accordance with the guidelines of the State Environmental Monitoring institution, the Inspectorate of Environmental Protection conducts air quality measurements based on examining the concentration of suspended PM10 and PM2.5. The methodology indicated in the Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (OJ L 152 11.6.2008, p. 1) as well as the regulation of the Ministry of Environment of 13 September 2012 on evaluation of levels of substances in the air. (Dz. U. 2012, item 1032) is applied.

Air quality in Poland is measured with the use of two complementary methods:

  • gravimetric method, considered to be the most accurate measuring method,
  • automated method, which complements the indications of the gravimetric method.

Air quality measured with the gravimetric method requires the use of high volume air samplers where the atmospheric air is sucked in. Every 2 weeks, 14 disposable filters are placed in samplers and changed every 24 hours. Filters are conditioned and weighed in the laboratory before and after two-week measurement. The concentration of particulate matter on the filters is calculated from the difference in filter weight. Currently, in Poland, air quality measurement using this method is conducted in approx. 180 locations for PM10 and approx. 70 locations for PM2.5.

The automated method of air quality measurement is equivalent to the gravimetric method. It involves the use of automatic meters that measure the concentration of particulate matter on an ongoing basis and enable real-time graphic representation in the form of maps. The data are updated on an hourly basis and displayed in the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection’s (GIOŚ) application, “Air quality in Poland”. Air sensors used in the automated method are installed in approx. 135 locations for PM10 and approx. 45 locations for PM2.5.

What are the types of meters, counters and air sensors

Air sensors allow you to perform accurate measurements of not only particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5. Due to their high measurement precision and a wide range of products on offer, it is possible to use them for concentration measurements of formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, humidity, carbon dioxide, or air temperature.

For air quality measurements, advanced measuring devices that comprehensively measure all pollutants in ambient air can be used, as well as individual air sensors which make it possible for the users to construct their own measuring device based on Arduino or another framework.

Among the air sensors, models measuring the PM2.5 and PM10 parameters there should be mentioned, fitted with sensors for measurement of pollution particles with a diameter of 1 to 0,3 μm. These types of systems most often employ communication via the UART interface and can be connected to Arduino or Raspberry Pi. The market offer also includes air sensors that communicate on the basis of the PWM signal. Such devices operate at 3.5 to 5.75 V voltages.

Air sensors that measure air quality with exceptional precision are laser sensors that allow for continuous monitoring of air quality, as well as PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations. Laser air sensors can communicate via UART or PWM signals and can be connected to Arduino or other platforms operating at 5 V voltage.

An example of air quality and gas detection sensor that can be used in a system for measuring air quality is SENCERA SENS-HS-131 or SENS-HS-129. Air sensors detect isobutane, butane, alcohol, as well as pollutions in the form of particulate matter such as PM2.5 and PM10.

Particle counters will also facilitate the measurement of air pollution– e.g.UNI-T A25M. It is a precise particle counter with a measuring range from 0 to 500 µg/m3, equipped with a backlit LCD screen. The device measures PM2.5 concentration and temperature and its accuracy is ±(10µg/m3 + 10 digits).

If you are looking for a well-tested and advanced air quality monitor for comprehensive indoor measurements, check the ECOLIFE AIRSENSOR ECL01 air sensor and particle counter. This device can measure pressure, volatile organic compounds, concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 as well as temperature and moisture.


The device provides measurement accuracy of 10%. The accuracy of the humidity measurement is ± 4%, and its range is 0-80% RH. The temperature measurement range of the device is from -10 to 85oC. The particle counter is equipped with a Wi-Fi communication interface for access to the measurement values from a smartphone, tablet or PC. AIRSENSOR ECL01 is powered from the USB port.


Monitoring the air quality at a home, workshop, plant or office, gives you a possibility to respond quickly to exceedingly high concentrations of hazardous substances suspended in the air and take appropriate measures to reduce air pollution.

A quick response is crucial in order to protect yourself and your family or employees, from the negative health effects of excessive exposure to inhalation of particulate matter and other harmful substances.