Air Sampling Methods
Air sampling methods vary according to the contaminants you’re testing for. The most common types of air sampling methods include the following:
Whole air sampling
Solid sorbent sampling (Active)
Solid sorbent sampling (Passive)
In this post we will go over each of those air sampling methods in detail so you’ll know the correct way to gather a sample depending on what kind of air quality testing you’ll be doing.
The 5 Types of Air Sampling Methods
Whole Air Sampling
This is the most simple of all air sampling methods. It involves collecting a whole air sample in a sample bag or can. This method is perfectly acceptable for sampling permanent gases, such as oxygen.
The difficulty with this sampling method is that the holding time for bag samples is only around 1 to 3 days. That means a sample would need to be rushed to the laboratory immediately upon collecting the sample to ensure best results.
Solid Sorbent Sampling (Active)
This method of air sampling involves drawing air through a tube filled with solid sorbent material. Any contaminants that may be in the air are chemically absorbed within the material inside the tube.
It’s important to note that this is not a catch-all solution. There is no sorbent material designed to capture all types of air contaminants at once. However, there are numerous types of sorbent materials available for capturing the particular chemical or class of chemicals you’re testing for.
Solid Sorbent Sampling (Passive)
Select sorbent material can be used in passive mode. The difference between active and passive is that passive mode means the contaminants are absorbed into the sorbent material via diffusion. Active mode means having to actively pull the air through the sorbent material with a pump.
Passive sorbent sampling has a few advantages over active sampling. It is discreet, the sampling material is easy to work with, and it’s a method that can be used for long-term sampling.
Investigating odors and ambient air perimeter (“fence line”) monitoring can be accomplished especially well with passive solid sorbent sampling.
Liquid impingers can be used to sample certain contaminants in the air. This method is very similar to active solid sorbent sampling in the sense that it works by having contaminants chemically react with a solution as a sample of air is bubbled through the liquid.
This method of air sampling is not as commonly used as it once was, there are now many alternative methods which use treated sorbent tubes instead of impingers.
This method of air sampling is designed for collecting contaminants in the form of vapors. Collecting contaminants in the vapor phase involves using chemically treated filter material designed to cause a reaction when the contaminant you’re testing for passes through it.
This method is also similar to active sorbent sampling, in the sense that filter sampling involves using a sampling pump to pull a known volume of air through a filter cassette.
Air Sampling Methods: In Summary
There you have it, the five most common types of air sampling methods. If indoor air quality is a concern of yours, know that we offer an air quality testing kit that tests for over 700,000 compounds affecting indoor air quality.
To see if the air you’re breathing every day contains any toxic organic chemicals, order one of our home air quality testing kits today.
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