Air Sampling Methods

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Environmental pollutants from industrial factories can reduce the quality of outdoor air.
Environmental pollutants from industrial factories can reduce the quality of outdoor air. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Air sampling represents an important body of techniques for evaluating air quality. These techniques may apply to both indoor and outdoor air samples. Public and private buildings belonging to organizations of a specific size are examples of structures that must have sufficient air quality to meet federal, state and local indoor air regulations.

Direct Reading Instruments

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health created air sampling guidelines to satisfy the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In industrial facilities, the goal is to assess how much occupants might be personally exposed to air pollutants. One method for collecting a sample involves installing direct-reading instruments. This type of device, specific to certain types of air pollutants such as gases and particles, monitors air, collects samples and measures the level of a pollutant in each sample.

Spectroscopic Analysis

Another method for sampling air quality involves spectroscopic analysis. A sampling device, of which there are many kinds, might include a filter. As air passes through such a device, the filter will use spectroscopy to determine the rate at which an analyte (particle) is present in a sample. Spectroscopy is a form of technology in which passing light through a sample will provide information about its contents. For example, spectroscopy can estimate properties of an analyte, such as its mass and composition.

Personal Sampling

Another method for sampling air involves asking employees facing potential exposure to wear a personal sampling device. For example, coal miners might be exposed to high levels of silica dust. A new technology, a personal dust monitor, is a device a miner could wear on the job to check for dust levels in the air. This device measures the air a person breathes in his or her personal breathing zone and is designed to not inconvenience a worker. It is worn as a normal cap lamp (worn on top of the head). Personal sampling devices which measure air breathed in by workers also exist for other work environments, such as workers exposed to gases in chemical labs.

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