Recently the EPA collaborated with the NIEHS  Superfund Research Program (SRP) for the Risk eLearning webinar three-part series on  “Using GIS Tools to Analyze, Compute, and Predict Pollution“.

Andy Larkin
Andy Larkin

This final session focused on Community Engagement  and included a presentation by one of our trainees, Andy Larkin, entitled Making models personal: increasing the impact of atmospheric pollutant models by predicting pollutant levels at Android and iPhone locations.

Over 110 people participated on the webinar. Andy provided an outstanding overview of the mobile app he developed and included future directions and needs.

Presenting as part of this Risk eLearning Series let us demonstrate how GIS chips in smartphones could be used to provide personalized information about air quality. ~Andy Larkin

View webinar archive online
For presentation abstracts and the first two GIS webinars, go to the SRP Risk eLearning webpage.

Key points from Larkin’s presentation

  • Smartphones are one of the newest methods available for collecting location-based information. There are currently more than one billion active smartphone users in the world (source:
  • Smartphones can identify a person’s location and pollutant models can predict pollution levels at a given location.  By linking smartphones with pollutant models, it is hypothesized that multiple pollutants can be predicted at smartphone locations.  Geographical constraints are based on the constraint of the underlying pollutant models, and can conceivably cover the extent of the entire world.
  • Sampling and retaining locations at regular intervals can provide a well documented past of predicted pollutant levels at smartphone locations.  Input from the smartphone user about intended future locations can potentially be used to predict pollutant levels at future locations.
  • Sampling data acquired from a group representative of the population can be used to make inferences about spatial and temporal trends regarding pollution level conditions for the entire population
  • To test the proof of principle that smartphones can be linked with environmental maps, Larkin created PM2.5, PM10, and ozone hourly forecast maps for the state of Oregon.  Maps forecast predicted exposure levels at air monitoring stations using Seasonal Integrated Moving Average (SIMA) time series models.  Forecasts at air monitoring stations are then interpolated to cover the entire state using universal Kriging for PM2.5 and PM10, and inverse distance weighing for ozone.  These modeling methods were chosen because they can be validated and evaluated using prediction errors.
  • The future in personal monitoring is combining complementary technologies.
Step 1: The smartphone determines its location and current time, and sends the information to a cloud storage database as a .csv file
Step 1: The smartphone determines its location and current time, and sends the information to a cloud storage database as a .csv file
Step 2: After location values are sent to the cloud storage database, the predicted pollutant concentrations for all models within the database are determined for the given latitude and longitude coordinates
Step 3: Predicted pollutant values and the original information are then returned to the smartphone in a .csv file format

All are welcome to participate in the upcoming webinar. Please RSVP to Naomi Hirsch to get call-in information.

Next-generation air monitoring

By Gayle Hagler, PhD, U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development

Tuesday, December 10th, 12 noon PT,  3:00 pm ET

Soon you will be able to lounge on a bench in a public setting and use your smart phone to get real-time data on the air quality around you. It’s all part of a project being co-led by EPA scientists Ronald Williams and Dr. Gayle Hagler.

Air pollution measurement technology is advancing rapidly towards smaller-scale and wireless devices, with a potential to significantly change the landscape of air pollution monitoring. The U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development is evaluating and developing a range of next-generation air monitoring (NGAM) technologies, with potential applications including supplementing regulatory air monitoring networks, fenceline monitoring of source emissions, and personal exposure assessment.

An example recent effort is the EPA Village Green Project – a solar-powered system incorporated into a park bench that measures fine particles, ozone, and meteorology and streams the data to a publically accessible website. EPA also recently led multiple workshops to stimulate collaboration among sensor developers and air monitoring participants, as well as supported technology development through sensor performance testing.

This presentation will provide an overview of emerging air sensing technologies and discuss challenges and opportunities for future air monitoring.

More information: