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Monitoring personal fine particle exposure with a particle counter


Numerous epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between ambient combustion-source particulates and adverse health outcomes. In order to better understand exposure to particles, we evaluated a portable particle counter for its ability to measure short-term peaks in personal particle exposure associated with various activities, such as proximity to vehicular traffic. In a series of laboratory and field measurements, a hand-held particle counter was evaluated by collecting simultaneous filter samples of particulate matter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) using a personal monitor. Time activity information was collected using a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) which allows for linking of exposure events and particle measurements with 1 min temporal resolution. Laboratory and field experiments comparing the particle counter with the personal PM2.5 samples indicated low correlations (R2≤0.39) for all size ranges. Despite these rather poor correlations, field measurements collected during different commuting modes (walking/cycling, car, bus, subway) and in different microenvironments indicated the ability of the particle counter to measure short-term particle exposures, especially those associated with combustion sources. Stratifying the measured particle counts by proximity to different particle sources enabled us to identify activities/microenvironments which were associated with higher exposures. Outdoor particle counts were significantly higher than indoor counts for particles smaller than 5.0 μm. Significantly elevated particle exposures were associated with proximity to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), cooking emissions, wood smoke and with travel in vehicles powered with internal combustion engines.

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Correspondence to MICHAEL BRAUER.

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BRAUER, M., HIRTLE, R., HALL, A. et al. Monitoring personal fine particle exposure with a particle counter. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 9, 228–236 (1999).

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  • mobile sources
  • particles
  • particle counts
  • personal digital assistant
  • personal exposure

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