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Ann Occup Hyg. 2004 Jun;48(4):351-68. Epub 2004 Mar 2.

Performance of personal inhalable aerosol samplers in very slowly moving air when facing the aerosol source.

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  • 1Institut National de Recherche et de Securite, INRS, Laboratoire de Metrologie des Aerosols, BP 27, 54501 Vandoeuvre Cedex, France.


While personal aerosol samplers have been characterized primarily based on wind tunnel tests conducted at relatively high wind speeds, modern indoor occupational environments are usually represented by very slow moving air. Recent surveys suggest that elevated levels of occupational exposure to inhalable airborne particles are typically observed when the worker, operating in the vicinity of the dust source, faces the source. Thus, the first objective of this study was to design and test a new, low cost experimental protocol for measuring the sampling efficiency of personal inhalable aerosol samplers in the vicinity of the aerosol source when the samplers operate in very slowly moving air. In this system, an aerosol generator, which is located in the centre of a room-sized non-ventilated chamber, continuously rotates and omnidirectionally disperses test particles of a specific size. The test and reference samplers are equally distributed around the source at the same distance from the centre and operate in parallel (in most of our experiments, the total number of simultaneously operating samplers was 15). Radial aerosol transport is driven by turbulent diffusion and some natural convection. For each specific particle size and the sampler, the aerosol mass concentration is measured by weighing the collection filter. The second objective was to utilize the new protocol to evaluate three widely used aerosol samplers: the IOM Personal Inhalable Sampler, the Button Personal Inhalable Aerosol Sampler and the 25 mm Millipore filter holder (closed-face C25 cassette). The sampling efficiencies of each instrument were measured with six particle fractions, ranging from 6.9 to 76.9 micro m in their mass median aerodynamic diameter. The Button Sampler efficiency data demonstrated a good agreement with the standard inhalable convention and especially with the low air movement inhalabilty curve. The 25 mm filter holder was found to considerably under-sample the particles larger than 10 micro m; its efficiency did not exceed 7% for particles of 40-100 micro m. The IOM Sampler facing the source was found to over-sample compared with the data obtained previously with a slowly rotating, freely suspended sampler in a low air movement environment. It was also found that the particle wall deposition in the IOM metallic cartridge was rather significant and particle size-dependent. For each sampler (IOM, Button and C25) the precision was characterized through the relative standard deviation (RSD) of the aerosol concentration obtained with identical samplers in a specific experiment. The average RSD was 14% for the IOM Sampler, 11% for the Button Sampler and 35% for the 25 mm filter cassette. A separate set of experiments, performed with the Simplified Torso showed that in very slowly moving air a personal sampler can be adequately evaluated even when it is not attached to a body but freely suspended (confirming the data reported previously).

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