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Filter and Electrostatic Samplers for Semivolatile Aerosols:  Physical Artifacts

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journal contribution
posted on 2002-09-28, 00:00 authored by John Volckens, David Leith
Adsorptive and evaporative artifacts often bias measurements of semivolatile aerosols. Adsorption occurs when the sampling method disrupts the gas-particle partitioning equilibrium. Evaporation occurs because concentrations of semivolatiles are rarely constant over time. Filtration is subject to both adsorptive and evaporative artifacts. By comparison, electrostatic precipitation reduces these artifacts by minimizing the surface area of collected particles without substantially disrupting the gas-particle equilibrium. The extent of these artifacts was determined for filter samplers and electrostatic precipitator samplers for semivolatile alkane aerosols in the laboratory. Adsorption of gas-phase semivolatiles was lower in electrostatic precipitators by factors of 5−100 compared to the filter method. Particle evaporation from the electrostatic sampler was 2.3 times lower than that from TFE-coated glass-fiber filters. Use of a backup filter to correct for compound-specific adsorption artifacts can introduce positive or negative errors to the measured particle-phase concentration due to competition among the adsorbates for available adsorption sites. Adsorption of evaporated particles from the front filter onto the backup filter increased the measured evaporative artifact by a factor of 1.5−2.