Personal Sampling Device for Exposure Measurement of Particles and Gases
At A Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a personal volatile organic compound (VOC) measurement device that joins continuous tVOC (total VOC) and environmental sensing with “gold-standard” time-integrated sampling. Merging real-time, spatially explicit, tVOC and environmental sensing data with time-integrated, species-specific VOC concentrations presents a new opportunity to use machine learning approaches for data analysis. The unique, versatile design allows personal VOC exposures to be resolved across up to four distinct microenvironments, including a person’s home, place of work or school, transit and commuting paths, and other non-residential indoor environments. Each location is programmed into the device prior to sampling through a built-in wireless interface.
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Comprehensive exposure assessment in the field of occupational health has been limited, historically, by a combination of technological, financial, and human factors. The cost and complexity of personal sampling technology limits a single industrial hygienist (IH) to making, at most, -10 measurements of personal airborne exposure each day. Many hygienists can work together to produce a larger exposure dataset; however, the cost to assess exposures for every worker in a facility is exorbitant under the current paradigm. Thus, exposure assessment campaigns (whether for research or for practice) engage very few workers and tend to be underpowered. Small sample sizes limit our ability to identify workers at greatest risk of overexposure (i.e., above the 95th percentile of a lognormal distribution); they also lead to imprecise effect estimates in occupational epidemiology. Collectively, these limitations lead to greater risks of poor health outcomes. The same issue also plagues the field of environmental risk assessment and epidemiology.
Millions of people suffer from adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution. The exponential growth in air pollution research over the past several decades has created a growing need (and market) for improved exposure measurement technologies that are tailored to diverse air pollution mixtures. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to these mixtures include carcinogens, neurotoxicants, and endocrine-disrupting compounds, as well as compounds linked to unhealthy respiratory and immune responses, especially among highly susceptible populations (e.g. children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing diseases). Exposure to VOCs is also a pressing concern in occupational settings, especially for emergency first responders (e.g. immediately following natural disasters and accidental chemical releases), workers involved in hazardous site assessment (e.g. Superfund sites), and long-term disaster response teams (e.g. mold remediation following flooding events).
- Small, light, quiet
- Less expensive and easy to use
- Single piece construction eliminates need for tubing, reducing restriction of movement on wearer
- Time/space resolved exposure
Quinn, C., Miller-Lionberg, D., Klunder, K.J., Kwon, J., Noth, E.M., Mehaffy, J., Magzamen, S., Hammond, S.K., Henry, C.S., and J. Volckens. (2018) ‘Personal exposure to PM2.5 black carbon and aerosol oxidative potential using an automated microenvironmental aerosol sampler (AMAS).’ Environmental Science and Technology. 52(19) 11267-11275. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02992
Last updated: June 2020