Maker Monday: Measuring Air Pollution on New Year’s Eve with a Particulate Matter Sensor

 Originally published on December 30, 2018 by Shaun Behrens
Last updated on March 29, 2022 • 4 minute read

Here in Germany, fireworks are "unbanned" for one day of the year: New Year's Eve. And every year I wonder how it is possible that fireworks are still legal at all, even for one day. Setting aside the safety factor (mixing drunken revelers with fire and rockets is never, ever a good idea), there is the fact that fireworks are terrible for the environment. Back in 2016, fireworks in Germany accounted for a particulate matter level equivalent to 17% of the country's annual vehicle emissions. And most of that on just one night!

But just how much particulate matter will be produced in Nürnberg, where Paessler HQ is based? And for how long will the pollution hang around in the air? These are the questions we have as 2018 draws to a close. And what better way to answer them than with a Maker Monday episode? 

Particulate Matter Sensor

We want to measure the particulate matter levels in Nürnberg, starting from the afternoon on New Year's Eve. We will also have a sensor out in the countryside somewhere, just to show us a comparison in the values. 

In combination with the particulate matter sensor, we use the MKR FOX 1200 board, which is an Arduino device with Sigfox connectivity (Sigfox is a provider of a Low Power Wide Area, or LPWA, network). We then use PRTG Network Monitor to monitor the values we receive, and we should be able to see the particulate matter levels over a period of time on New Year's Eve. 

Watch the episode for more detailed information about how we are doing this. 

Reporting the Results

We will have a follow-up episode early in January 2019 to review the results, so subscribe to our channel and get notified when its released.

UPDATE: Read about the results and watch the follow-up video.

To all our viewers and readers, we at Paessler wish you a happy and peaceful 2019! And if you're shooting off fireworks tonight, take care! 

See you next year!