Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

B.A. in Environmental Science

Organizational Unit

College of Natural Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment

Second Advisor

Alex Huffman

Third Advisor

Michael W. Kerwin


Particulate matter, Colorado, Atmospheric science, Pollution


This thesis explored particulate matter (PM) concentrations at two sites within the Colorado Front Range. The study utilized two models of PurpleAir PM sensors, Flex and SD-II, to provide real-time, accessible data on PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 mass concentrations with the goal of establishing the first research site at the Kennedy Mountain Campus (KMC). The first of the two sites used during this study was at a suburban location outside of Denver, CO. This period was used as an instrument intercomparison period in order to conduct instrument analysis. The initial findings from this period found significant correlations between PM concentration measurements from different models (R2 of 0.98 to 0.89). PurpleAir Flex model sensors consistently showed higher PM concentrations than the SD models (0.15 to 0.27 times higher). The sensors were then deployed at the KMC to establish an atmospheric research site and provide preliminary data for the new site. The first available data (17 weeks of ambient measurements) provided similar conclusions to the intercomparison period, with Flex sensors recording higher PM concentrations. The findings also showed data relating to diurnal trends at the campus and PM size fraction trends. The study emphasizes the potential for further research to be conducted with the PurpleAir sensors to determine the PM sources, PM trends, and pollutant effects at the new KMC low mountain site. The research conducted within this study is foundational work supporting the future establishment of a long-term research site at the KMC, fostering future research collaborations and contributions to the broader atmospheric science community and beyond. It is important to note that for this thesis's purposes, data acquisition was cut off at the end of April to allow for analysis and inclusion in it; however, it is important to note that data collection is still continuously ongoing.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Alyssa Knaus


Received from author

File Format



English (eng)


23 pgs

File Size

14.1 MB