Wynnum Citizen Science Air Monitoring Project

The Wynnum Citizen Science Air Monitoring project was established to work with the community to address concerns related to dust pollution and air quality.

The project is a collaboration between the Department of Environment and Science, the Bayside Creeks Catchment Group and community members of Clean Air Wynnum.

Project phases

  1. Project scoping and community engagement (February –June 2018)
  2. Dust deposition and surface wipe sampling (November 2018)
  3. Air monitoring device installation begins (December 2018)
  4. First interim report released (April 2019)
  5. Dust deposition gauges redeployed (May 2019)
  6. Mid project report (September 2019)
  7. Device collection and data analysis (December 2019)
  8. Final report released (early 2020)

Measuring air particles

Wynnum citizen scientists with Department of Environment and Science staff member.

Citizen scientists from Clean Air Wynnum are using low-cost particle sensors to measure particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in real-time and assess against national air quality standards. Airborne particles are commonly measured in two different size distributions, being PM2.5 and PM10. These measures refer to particles that are less than 2.5 micrometres (µm) in diameter and less than 10 micrometres respectively. To safeguard human health and the natural environment, national air quality standards help to manage short or long-term air quality issues at local, national and regional levels. Air quality data will be collected from the residences of the citizen scientists over a 12-month period.

PM2.5 particles are mainly generated by combustion processes, such as motor vehicle engines, industrial boilers, solid fuel heaters and fires.

PM10 particles are generated by combustion and non-combustion processes, including windblown dust, sea salt, industrial processes, motor vehicle engines and fires.

To further assist in the analysis of the data, citizen scientists record additional observations from their residences (such as fires, vehicle emissions, lawn mowing or barbecuing) that may affect localised particle readings.

Air monitoring

Clean Air Wynnum citizen scientists collect data using PurpleAir devices that use fans to draw air past a laser, counting airborne particles of various sizes. The data is displayed in real time on a map along with other active PurpleAir devices around the world. To view the Wynnum data (current readings, averages over one day and one week, as well as a graph over seven days):

  • go to this specific PurpleAir map link for Wynnum
  • select ‘Raw PM2.5 in µg/m³’ or ‘Raw PM10 in µg/m³’ from the bottom-left drop-down menu on the Map Data Layer tab (as shown below) (the map automatically defaults to display a US Air Quality Index measure).

Map data layer example:

Mid project results

Mid project report – December 2018 - June 2019

The Wynnum Citizen Science Air Monitoring Project mid project report (PDF, 1.16MB) provides the results for air monitoring, dust deposition and dust composition from December 2018 to June 2019. These results provide an indicative assessment of air quality and dust pollution in the Wynnum area for the first seven months of the project. Air monitoring will continue until December 2019, assisting to provide a more comprehensive assessment of local air quality.

The final report will be released in early 2020.

For more information about the Wynnum Citizen Science Air Monitoring Project:

Surface wipe dust composition – November 2018

Surface wipe sampling involved the collection of dust samples from various surfaces (such as tabletops, chairs and eaves) at the residencies of Wynnum citizen scientists.  This was conducted in November 2018.

Surface wipes were analysed independently using an electron and stereomicroscopy to determine the type (and potential sources) of dust (but the duration it has been there is unknown). Proportions of different types of particles are measured based on their surface area coverage, rather than particle mass.

This analysis method identifies a range of black-coloured particles (coal, soot and rubber dust), mineral dust particles (e.g. soil, rock, cement and glass), biological particles (e.g. insects and plants) and other general organic particles (e.g. wood, fibres, and plastics). Compositional analyses can also be an indicator of particle source. For example, black-coloured dust may consist of various particle types such as rubber dust from tyre wear, diesel or petrol emissions from transport, or mould.

The majority of dust from surface wipe samples consisted of mineral dust from soil or rock and black rubber dust. Other particle types common in domestic areas (e.g. plant and insect debris) were also identified.

Graph showing average particle type wipe from surface wipes

Dust deposition – November 2018 and May 2019

Dust deposition sampling involved participants housing dust gauges for the month of November 2018 and May 2019.Dust gauges consist of a two-litre collection bottle and funnel mounted on a PVC stand, designed to collect airborne particles that settle on the internal surface area of the funnel.

When samples are collected, insoluble dust is washed from the bottle then filtered, dried and weighed. Dust deposition is measured in mg/m²/day (milligrams per square meter per day). This provides a measure of how much dust settles over a given area and time under the influence of gravity (dustfall rate).

Dust deposition data will also help inform whether airborne dust is a nuisance. A guideline of 120mg/m²/day averaged over one month is commonly used to assess dust nuisance.

All dustfall rates fell below the nuisance guideline during both November 2018 and May 2019.

Graph showing dustfall rates during November 2018 and May 2019

Dust collected from gauges were also analysed independently to determine composition and similarities to particles analysed in the surface wipes.

Dust deposition samples from November 2018 and May 2019 consisted mostly of mineral dust from soil or rock, with smaller proportions of black rubber dust and other particles common in domestic environments.

Graph 1 showing average particle types from dust deposition samples - November 2018

Graph 2 showing average particle types from dust deposition samples - May 2019

The project will continue to collect air monitoring data until December 2019 to provide a twelve month indicative assessment of air quality in the Wynnum area.