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Air Quality Sensors

Using Sensors to Understand Air Quality

Air sensors are lower-cost, portable devices that can estimate a variety of air pollutants. There are a wide variety of sensors on the market that are available to anyone. Prices start around $200, which is a fraction of the cost of the regulatory-grade, ambient air quality monitors that we operate and maintain.

In the Spokane-area, the use of personal air quality sensors is growing. Private individuals, as well as organizations like schools, libraries, sport associations, and outdoor event organizers, are using sensors as a tool to better understand air quality conditions near them.

Although sensors provide less accurate data than the data we provide from the regulatory monitors we operate and maintain, we support and encourage the use of air quality sensors. We believe they can be a useful tool for residents, educators, and students to explore indoor and outdoor air quality.

Air Sensors at Libraries

In partnership with our two public library systems in Spokane County, every branch location has indoor and outdoor air quality sensors installed. These are stationary PurpleAir® sensors. Data from these sensors, and from those located across the globe, are available for viewing on the PurpleAir map. Additionally, we setting up a Sensor Lending Program so that interested individuals can borrow hand-held sensor kits to conduct their own air quality observations. Sensor lending programs are expected to launch by June 2023. These programs are made possible by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Air Sensors at Schools

Air sensors are great tools for educators to engage with their students around the topic of air quality. With the assistance of a state grant and support from three local business sponsors, Spokane Clean Air is implementing the Kids Making Sense® program in eight pilot schools during the 2022-23 school year. Teachers from each school completed their trainings in November and are implementing the program in their classrooms. Student-led projects are underway, and we look forward to highlighting the projects on this page in late Spring, before the end of the school year. Each of these pilot schools also received two PurpleAir® sensors for installation indoors and outside.

(L) Educators assembling for a training session. (R) Contents of the KMS classroom kits.

Special thanks to these participating organization and sponsors:

  • Washington State Department of Ecology
  • Spokane Public Library
  • Spokane County Library District
  • Spokane Public Schools
  • Cheney School District
  • Medical Lake School District
  • West Valley School District
  • Avista
  • Central Pre-Mix/Inland Asphalt
  • Hotstart Thermal Management