If you have a news tip send us an email at: tips@oregoncapitalinsider.com


DEQ unveils new air quality monitoring technology

The new devices were created at DEQ's Hillsboro laboratory and have been distributed to eight Air Quality Index (AQI) sites.

COURTESY DEQ - Air quality sensor.The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has developed new technology that improve the monitoring of air quality and provide agency staff with timely pollution information at more locations throughout the state.

The new devices were created at DEQ's Hillsboro laboratory and have been distributed to eight Air Quality Index (AQI) sites in Bend, Brooking, Chiloquin, Coos Bay, Florence, Forest Grove, Portland and Redmond. The project was greenlit in 2017 when the Oregon Legislature funded an additional 30 monitoring sites for DEQ's interactive website that allows the public to check local air conditions.

Over the past year, DEQ staff developed an innovative design using a light sensor to measure particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter — approximately one-twenty-fifth the size of a human hair.

The SensOR includes a heated inlet to reduce interference from humidity; regulated air sample flow; automated quality control checks; data acquisition and cellular communication. The scientists spent several months calibrating the SensORs to their more expensive reference instruments to ensure the AQI is accurate and reliable.

"This is really a testament to the resourcefulness and expertise of our lab team. It is due to their hard work and creativity that we are able to provide the public with more accurate data on the quality of the air in their region," said Ali Mirzakhalili, air quality administrator for DEQ. "One new SensOR costs approximately $5,000 to $10,000 less than monitors we have purchased in the past. That savings means we can deploy more devices to more areas."