Air particulate monitors

Accurate air particulate monitoring for regulatory compliance and to protect the health and wellbeing of communities

Fine particulate matter is one of the key global pollutants affecting human health and monitoring its concentration in ambient air is one of the most important components of a total air quality monitoring program. It can also be prevalent in indoor air. In addition to being a health hazard, particle pollution is recognised as having detrimental effects on the environment from poor visibility to more serious impacts such as acid rain, which pollutes soil and water. The ability to measure PM and understand its sources is the foundation for implementing strategies to mitigate the risk associated with long-term human exposure or incidents that may cause harm.

Sources of air particulate matter

Particulate matter (PM) is generally classified according to whether it originates from a natural or anthropogenic source. Natural sources include volcanic eruptions, bush fires and pollen dispersal.  

Anthropogenic or man-made sources include farming, horticulture, waste disposal and sewage, while emissions from combustion of fuels, for example, vehicle exhaust and wood-burning fires are the main contributor towards excessive PM levels in our air due to increases in urbanisation, high population density and intensive industrial activity. 

The effects of PM on health occur at levels of exposure currently being experienced by many people both in urban and rural areas and in developed and developing countries – although exposures in many fast-developing cities today are often far higher than in developed cities of comparable size.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in low- and middle- income countries, exposure to pollutants in and around homes from the household combustion of polluting fuels on open fires or traditional stoves for cooking, heating and lighting further increases the risk for air pollution-related diseases, including acute lower respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Types of particulate matter 

There are different sizes of particulate matter with varying degrees of harmfulness. The concentration of PM is measured in micrometres (μm).

  • Total suspended particles (TSP) — airborne particles up to 100 μm in diameter generated by combustion & non-combustion processes, including windblown dust, sea salt, earthworks, mining activities, industrial processes, motor vehicle engines & fires 
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) — fine particles or droplets in the air with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less that are so minute they can penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream
  • Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) — particles with a diameter of 10 μm or less that are small enough to pass through the throat & nose & enter the lungs
  • Particulate Matter 1 (PM1) — extremely fine particles of less than 1 μm diameter 
  • Particulate Matter 4 (PM4) — particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 4 μm or less.

Methodologies and techniques for real-time air particulate monitoring

Beta Attenuation Mass (BAM)

The BAM method for air particulate monitoring continuously measures the mass concentration of ambient PM collected onto glass filter tape with a time resolution of one minute. It uses an in-line sampling geometry in which the attenuation of beta rays across filter media is measured and PM is sampled simultaneously. This allows ambient sampling to occur for virtually 60 minutes each hour. It also allows for beta ray measurements to be made for virtually the entire hour thereby improving sensitivity and time resolution. 

Spirant BAM

Automatically measures & records airborne particulate concentrations using the beta ray attenuation method (BAM).

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Exactus BAM

Real-time beta gauge that provides precise, real-time measurement of fine particulate matter automatically, a permanent installation with the capacity to be portable when needed

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Transportable & Handheld

These devices are based on optical technology and are designed for use in cleanrooms closed, controlled environments that employ environmental parameter control and filtration systems to purify the inside air for manufacturing and research processes, such as semiconductors, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, military/aerospace, medical and food packaging. ISO cleanroom classes define the number of airborne particles per cubic metre allowed. Validation testing is used to establish periodic or continuous monitoring points where precision particle counters are employed to measure the air. They can also be used in other settings including schools, universities and sports centres.

Methodology for near real-time PM sampling 

Gravimetric 

The gravimetric (weighing) method is where air is drawn through a pre-weighed filter and particles collect in the filter. The filter is then removed and reweighed. Although widely used by regulatory bodies including EPAs it is not ideal because it only provides average data for the period the filter was deployed and doesn’t measure in real time. It can however be useful to provide a quick snapshot of PM at a site to determine locations for more intensive monitoring.

Protinus 1000

Ideally suited for continuous real-time monitoring of PM2.5 & PM10 around mines, quarries, construction & other dust generating sites

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MicroVol 1100

A sampler designed for monitoring both indoor & outdoor air quality for TSP, PM10 & PM2.5, it is a low power, low noise instrument that can sample particulates in residential areas or workplaces with minimal distraction

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HiVol 3000

A sampler that performs remote unattended sampling of PM2.5, PM10 or TSP along with basic optional meteorological parameters to measure wind speed & direction

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Samplers

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Acoem’s range of air particulate monitors

Acoem has been at the forefront of integrating high quality air particulate monitors into its systems for decades, empowering researchers, environmental protection authorities and industries to take decisive action and help minimise and control air pollution.

We design and manufacture our own range of samplers and air particulate monitors (under both the Acoem and Met One brand names) for reference grade and near-reference . We also supply particulate monitors manufactured by our partners to ensure that we can provide you with a solution that best fits your individual monitoring project needs.

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