Measuring ambient acidic ultrafine particles using iron nanofilm detectors : Method development

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-532
Journal / PublicationAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


The number concentration and size-resolved properties of acidic ultrafine particles have been observed to more closely associate with adverse health effects than do indices of total particulate mass. However, no reliable measurement techniques are currently available to quantify the number concentration and the size distribution of ambient acidic ultrafine particles. In this study, a method with the use of iron nanofilm detectors for enumeration and size measurement of acid aerosols is developed and refined. Standard sulfuric acid (H 2SO 4) or ammonium hydrogen sulfate (NH 4HSO 4) droplets and sulfuric acid-coated particles were generated and deposited on the detectors causing reaction spots. The dimensions of the reaction spots were examined with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to establish the correlations between the diameter of the particle and the size of the reaction spot. To validate this method, field measurements were conducted from September 06 to November 30, 2010, at Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong. The results indicated that the particle number concentrations obtained from the AFM scanning of the exposed detectors via scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and electrostatic precipitator (ESP) collection were comparable to those derived from the SMPS + CPC (condensation particle counter) measurements (p > 0.05). The average geometric mean diameter of particles at peak measured by the SMPS + CPC and the detectors scanned by the AFM was 52.3 ± 6.9 nm and 51.9 ± 3.1 nm, respectively, showing good agreement. It is suggested that the iron nanofilm detectors could be a reliable tool for the measurement and analysis of acidic particles in the atmosphere.© 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.