Air Monitoring

Analysis of Suspended Particulates Offers Key to Air Quality in Asia - Gary Pritchard PhD & Maurice Wicks

Feb 09 2011

Author: Gary Pritchard PhD & Maurice Wicks on behalf of Malvern PANalytical BV

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The chemical analysis of suspended particulate matter in air is traditionally performed by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence technology (EDXRF) according to EPA method IO-3.3, a protocol for the analysis of 44 elements on Teflon air filters. This article discusses the growing concerns about air quality in Asia, notes the significant advances in the development of EDXRF instrumentation and software that have occurred since the publication of the IO-3.3 method and presents an application study to demonstrate that by using the PANalytical Epsilon 5 EDXRF analyser the elemental range can be extended from 44 to 55 elements, using the EPA method.

The toxicity of air pollutants is causing increasing concern throughout the world. One of the key areas of current research is into the suspended particulate matter content (SPM) of air. Historically, the measurement of SPM focussed on total suspended particulates, with no preference to size selection. More recent studies into the health effects of SPM have shifted the focus onto smaller particles that can be inhaled into the respiratory system. Small particles with toxic materials adsorbed onto the surface are especially damaging for human health. Ultrafine particles have also been found to have adverse health effects even when they are not associated with toxic materials, or where they are made up of substances that are not harmful when present as larger particles.

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