Evaluation of low-cost optical particle counters for monitoring individual indoor aerosol sources

Parichehr Salimifard, Donghyun Rim, James D. Freihaut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Low-cost optical particle counters (OPC) have gained increasing attention in recent years in exposure studies. Previous studies reported that the OPCs’ performance varies considerably with type of particles being measured; however, little information on their performance in monitoring common indoor aerosols is available. Given the significance of exposure to indoor aerosols and their associated adverse health effects, this experimental study investigates the performance of low-cost OPCs in monitoring individual aerosols that are commonly found indoors in a controlled chamber environment. Performances of four low-cost OPCs were examined under exposure to varying concentrations of biological (dust mite, pollen, cat, and dog fur) and non-biological (monodisperse silica and melamine resin) aerosols. Each particle sample was dispersed into the chamber using a computer-controlled syringe injection system, while size-resolved particle number concentrations were simultaneously measured by four low-cost OPCs (OPC N2, IC Sentinel, Speck, and Dylos) as well as a lab-grade reference sensor (AeroTrak). The study results showed measurable effects of particle size, particle type, and concentration on the low-cost OPC responses. Particle concentration had the most dominant effect on the linearity of low-cost sensors. Results also revealed that the sensor responses to four biological particles follow a similar pattern and converge to a linear line as the number concentration increases above 5 cm−3. As for non-biological particles, the OPC responses were more varied depending on the particle type and size, especially in the concentration range <10 cm−3. Calibration equations developed in this study provide baseline information for correcting low-cost OPC readings when utilized to measure concentrations of individual indoor aerosol sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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