There is concern regarding the heterogeneity of exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) across urban areas leading to negatively biased health effects models. New, low-cost sensors now permit continuous and simultaneous measurements to be made in multiple locations. Measurements of ambient PM were made from October to April 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 to assess the spatial and temporal variability in PM and the relative importance of traffic and wood smoke to outdoor PM concentrations in Rochester, NY, USA. In general, there was moderate spatial inhomogeneity, as indicated by multiple pairwise measures including coefficient of divergence and signed rank tests of the value distributions. Pearson correlation coefficients were often moderate (~50% of units showed correlations >0.5 during the first season), indicating that there was some coherent variation across the area, likely driven by a combination of meteorological conditions (wind speed, direction, and mixed layer heights) and the concentration of PM2.5
being transported into the region. Although the accuracy of these PM sensors is limited, they are sufficiently precise relative to one another and to research grade instruments that they can be useful is assessing the spatial and temporal variations across an area and provide concentration estimates based on higher-quality central site monitoring data.
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