• AirSENCE FIRE-WATCH - Air quality surveillance system for early wildfire detection

Air Monitoring

AirSENCE FIRE-WATCH - Air quality surveillance system for early wildfire detection

Aug 10 2021

Wildfires are among the most common forms of natural disaster and are a serious threat to lives and property. Roughly 70,000 wildfires were reported in 2020 across the globe from almost every continent. Siberia, North America, and Australia are particularly susceptible, as are areas with Mediterranean climates like Southern Europe and California. Changes in weather patterns due to climate change are only expected to make the problem worse.

Wildfires disrupt transportation, communications, and supplies of power, fuel, and water while damaging property, crops, and resources. The smoke produced is also a threat to public health as it contains a mixture of gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as suspended particulates (e.g., PM2.5 and PM10) which represent the main component and principal health hazard of wildfire smoke. Air pollution resulting from wildfires causes a range of health issues like eye and respiratory tract irritation, reduced lung function, bronchitis, cardiovascular problems, and premature deaths.

A total of 3,925 wildfires were recorded across Canada in the first 7 months of 2021, which is above the 10-year average, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Smoke plumes and particulate matter from fires in northern Ontario, drifted more than 1,000 km southeast into the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the month of July, badly affecting its air quality despite the great intervening distance. Significant deterioration of air quality was accurately observed by AirSENCE devices installed in Toronto and in the adjacent Ccity of Oshawa.

Data of marker pollutants of wildfires— namely PM2.5 and CO—were collected over a 13-day period by 10 AirSENCE devices installed in Toronto and 2 installed in Oshawa. The measurements (shown along with government reference data in the charts below), clearly demonstrate elevated concentrations. PM2.5 levels in the GTA are usually below 30 μg/m3, but increased to well above 60 μg/m3,, with a peak value over 100 μg/m3, during two periods: 1. July 19–20 and 2. July 25–26. Elevated concentrations observed corresponded to two wildfire surges reported more than thousand kilometres away in northern Ontario and are corroborated by the reference station data. .   

AirSENCE, an “Advanced, Accurate and Affordable” Continuous Ambient Air Quality Micro-Monitoring Station (caaqMMS), provides a highly effective and economically viable “Early Wildfire Detection” solution in wildfire- prone regions. IIoT networks of AirSENCE FIRE-WATCH implemented as a grid in such regions will detect wildfires when they first appear by continuously monitoring real-time data for wildfire marker pollutants including CO, CO2, PM2.5, and PM10, as well as weather parameters including wind speed and direction, temperature, and humidity.

AirSENCE FIRE-WATCH features a small footprint, low-cost, autonomous operation, cloud data storage, and accurate data, making it an especially suitable solution to create Air Quality Surveillance Networks for early wildfire detection.

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