Inter-comparison of personal monitors for nanoparticles exposure at workplaces and in the environment
Personal monitors based on unipolar diffusion charging (miniDiSC/DiSCmini, NanoTracer, Partector) can be used to assess the individual exposure to nanoparticles in different environments. The charge acquired by the aerosol particles is nearly proportional to the particle diameter and, by coincidence, also nearly proportional to the alveolar lung-deposited surface area (LDSA), the metric reported by all three instruments. In addition, the miniDiSC/DiSCmini and the NanoTracer report particle number concentration and mean particle size. In view of their use for personal exposure studies, the comparability of these personal monitors was assessed in two measurement campaigns. Altogether 29 different polydisperse test aerosols were generated during the two campaigns, covering a large range of particle sizes, morphologies and concentrations. The data provided by the personal monitors were compared with those obtained from reference instruments: a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) for
LDSA and mean particle size and a ultrafine particle counter (UCPC) for number concentration. The results indicated that the LDSA concentrations and the mean particle sizes provided by all investigated instruments in this study were in the order of ±30% of the reference value obtained from the SMPS when the particle sizes of the test aerosols generatedwerewithin 20–400 nm and the instruments were properly calibrated. Particle size, morphology and concentration did not have a major effect within the aforementioned limits. The comparability of the number concentrations was found to be slightly worse and in the range of ±50% of the reference value obtained from the UCPC. In addition, a minor effect of the particle morphology on the number concentration measurements was observed. The presence of particles >400nm can drastically bias the measurement results of all instruments and all metrics determined.