Particulate matter measurement indoors : a review of metrics, sensors, needs and applications

Lowther, Scott and Jones, Kevin and Wang, Xinming and Whyatt, Duncan and Wild, Oliver and Booker, Douglas (2019) Particulate matter measurement indoors : a review of metrics, sensors, needs and applications. Environmental Science and Technology, 53 (20). pp. 11644-11656. ISSN 0013-936X

[thumbnail of Lowther_pre-print]
Text (Lowther_pre-print)
Lowther_pre_print.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (755kB)


Many populations spend ~90% of their time indoors, with household particulate matter being linked to millions of premature deaths worldwide. Particulate matter is currently measured using particle mass, particle number and particle size distribution metrics, with other metrics, such as particle surface area, likely to be of increasing importance in the future. Particulate mass is measured using gravimetric methods, tapered element oscillating microbalances and beta attenuation instruments and is best suited to use in compliance monitoring, trend analysis and high spatial resolution measurements. Particle number concentration is measured by Condensation Particle Counters, Optical Particle Counters and Diffusion Chargers. Particle number measurements are best suited to source characterization, trend analysis and ultrafine particle investigations. Particle size distributions are measured by gravimetric impactors, Scanning Mobility Particle Sizers, Aerodynamic Particle Sizers and Fast Mobility Particle Sizers. Particle size distribution measurements are most useful in source characterization and particulate matter property investigations, but most measurement options remain expensive and intrusive. However, we are on the cusp of a revolution in indoor air quality monitoring and management. Low-cost sensors have potential to facilitate personalized information about indoor air quality (IAQ), allowing citizens to reduce exposures to PM indoors and to resolve potential dichotomies between promoting healthy IAQ and energy efficient buildings. Indeed, the low cost will put this simple technology in the hands of citizens who wish to monitor their own IAQ in the home or workplace, to inform lifestyle decisions. Low-cost sensor networks also look promising as the solution to measuring spatial distributions of PM indoors, however, there are important sensor/data quality, technological and ethical barriers to address with this technology. An improved understanding of epidemiology is essential to identify which metrics correlate most with health effects, allowing indoor specific PM standards to be developed and to inform the future of experimental applications.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Information:
This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Environmental Science and Technology, copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? environmental chemistrychemistry(all) ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Sep 2019 10:05
Last Modified:
21 Feb 2024 00:54