New portable measuring tool enables accurate determination of airborne nanoparticle size and distribution

Companies cannot protect workers from nanoparticle exposure unless first they can determine there is a potential problem. To date, the size and cost of existing nanoparticle size measurement instrumentation has been an impediment to routine industrial measurements.

The new NanoScan SMPS Nanoparticle Sizer from TSI Incorporated. is a small, portable instrument developed to provide an affordable method to measure the size distribution of nanoparticle emissions in the workplace and in research settings.

Nanotechnology is an active area of scientific research due to the wide variety of commercial applications. However, nanoparticle emissions, generated from a wide variety of common sources, are considered a potential indoor/outdoor air quality hazard. Small, lightweight, and battery powered, the NanoScan SMPS provides real-time nanoparticle size and concentration data. Information on the size distribution of airborne nanoparticles can help differentiate between nanoparticles from emission sources and background airborne particulates.

In the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) publication ‘Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology: Managing the Health and Safety Concerns Associated with EngineeredĀ Nanomaterials’, a nanoparticle emission assessment technique is described for industrial hygienists which compares particle number concentration and relative size at the potential emission source to the background particle number concentrations and particle size. This helps to provide a means for determining the effectiveness of existing control measures and to discern the potential need for additional control measures.

“The NanoScan SMPS offers investigators interested in worker exposure an option that was not previously available: affordable nanoparticle size measurement,” said Kathy Erickson, an application specialist at TSI. “Size information gives them one more piece to the puzzleā€”helping to differentiate between potentially harmful engineered nanoparticle emissions, and naturally occurring ultrafine particles.”

The NanoScan SMPS is particularly useful for applications that require portability. Occupational hygiene applications such as work place surveys and point source identification, or research applications like on-road emission measurements and field studies will benefit from the instrument’s compact design and ease of use. The lower cost of the NanoScan SMPS versus comparable instruments also opens up the possibility of simultaneous temporal and spatial measurements with multiple units.

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