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Use of a condensation particle counter and an optical particle counter to assess the number concentration of engineered nanoparticles.

Schmoll LH; Peters TM; O'Shaughnessy PT
J Occup Environ Hyg 2010 Sep; 7(9):535-545
There is a need to evaluate nanoparticle (< 100 nm) exposures in occupational settings. However, portable instruments do not size segregate particles in that size range. A proxy method for determining nanoparticle count concentrations involves subtracting counts made with a condensation particle counter (CPC) from those of an optical particle counter/sizer (OPC), resulting in an estimation of "very fine" particles < 300 nm, where 300 nm is the OPC lower detection limit. However, to determine size distributions from which particles < 100 nm may be estimated, the resulting count of particles < 300 nm can be used as an additional channel of count data in addition to those obtained from the OPC. To test these methods, the very fine number concentrations determined using a CPC and OPC were compared with those from SMPS measurements and were used to verify the accuracy of a very fine particle number concentration determined by an OPC and CPC. Two "size-distribution" methods, weighted-average and log-probit, were applied to reproduce particle size distributions from OPC and CPC data and were then evaluated relative to their ability to accurately estimate the nanoparticle number concentrations. Various engineered nanoparticles were used to create test aerosols, including titanium dioxide (TiO(2)), silicon dioxide (SiO(2)), and iron oxide (Fe(2)O(3)). These materials were chosen because of their different refractive indices and therefore may be measured differently by the OPC. The count-difference method was able to estimate very fine particle number concentrations with an error between 10.9 to 58.4%. In estimating nanoparticle number concentrations using the size-distribution methods, the log-probit method resulted in the lowest percent errors that ranged from -42% to 1023%. Percent error was lower than the instrument manufacturer's indicated level of accuracy when the test aerosol refractive index was similar to that used for OPC calibration standards. Accuracy could be increased if there was an increase in the size resolution for number concentrations measured by the CPC of very fine particles and mitigation of optical effects.
Nanotechnology; Particulates; Air contamination; Aerosols; Analytical methods; Chemical analysis; Occupational exposure; Environmental exposure; Inhalants; Author Keywords: Condensation; Particle counter; Nanoparticles; Optical particle counter
Patrick T. O'Shaughnessy, University of Iowa, Occupational and Environmental Health, 100 Oakdale Campus, 137 IREH, Iowa City, IA 52242
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-008806; Grant-Number-K01-OH-009255; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008491
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Iowa
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division