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Atmospheric Particulate Matter (PM) Trends Of The Front Range Of Colorado Via PurpleAir Sensors

Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) contributes to a variety of individual health effects and public health challenges. PM data were collected and analyzed as a part of this thesis in an effort to contribute to broad efforts of collecting atmospheric measurements to help better understand their impacts on human health, social justice, and environmental causes. PurpleAir sensors were used in the data collection due to their accessibility and community engagement capabilities. Seven PurpleAir units were deployed at a suburban site in Denver for a four-month period (September 2023 – January 2024), during which sensor accuracy and confidence was assessed. Statistical analysis of the data provided a detailed technical intercomparison between sensor types and an overview of the multi-month PM trend in suburban Denver.

A thesis project by another graduating student will explore the intercomparison period (ICP) in more detail. Following the ICP, a small network of six sensors was deployed in pairs at three sites at the Kennedy Mountain Campus (KMC) to begin initial data acquisition and analysis of the PM trends in order to lay preliminary work toward an atmospheric research station proposed for later development at the site. The deployment of the sensors and the acquisition and preliminary analysis of the PM data achieved the primary project goal of establishing real-time environmental research efforts at the KMC. These efforts and data will provide the beginning infrastructure and momentum used by students working with a future KMC research station. The research station is envisioned to be used not only by University of Denver students, but as a collaborative space among researchers within Colorado to investigate issues relating to PM and other atmospheric and environmental sciences.