Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, iii, 45 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James J Schwab

Committee Members

Paul Roundy


air quality, black carbon, particulate matter, wavelet, Air, Environmental monitoring, Air quality management, Air quality, Soot

Subject Categories

Atmospheric Sciences | Other Chemistry


Availability of low cost optical sensors has allowed for the supplementation of existing air quality infrastructure with portable, adaptive monitors. While these sensors generally cannot offer the same accuracy and precision as established analysis methods, they can still reliably detect changes in pollutant concentration. This study evaluates the performance of two portable air quality enclosures deployed at collocated research sites to determine their accuracy and usefulness in field deployments. One system deployed collocated sensors for measurement of particulate matter mass concentration (Thermo pDR 1500 and TSI DustTrak DRX for PM2.5) and the second system deployed sensors for measurement of black carbon (Magee AE33 aethalometer and Brechtel Tricolor Absorption Photometer) in ambient and near road locations in Rochester, New York. While the optical PM2.5 sensors tended to be biased in their determination of concentration by ~15%, they followed changes and trends in concentration very well. The black carbon sensors in the portable systems agreed very well with each other and with the collocated sensor. To determine the contribution from statistically significant short-lived plumes of pollutants, a novel application of Morlet wavelet analysis was performed on data from the portable system sensors. Black carbon was found to be strongly influenced by plume behavior with plume activity representing 12.25% of all data points and contributing on average 1 µg/m3 of black carbon above ambient concentrations.