Analysis Workflow

Are the Ultra Fine particles in air toxic?

Tuesday 20 Apr 21
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New use of a method for characterization of particle pollution - developed at DTU Nanolab - has led to an improved and more precise analysis of aerosols in indoor work environments.

As part of his PhD Project, Anders Brostrøm developed a new application of a well-known method to collect aerosol particles. He demonstrated that electron microscopy analysis of such samples give a reproducible and representative result - if certain guidelines are followed.

“Previously, the method was primarily used quantitatively and to show images of particles, because they look nice. I went a bit further and proved that the method can be used qualitatively, and that it works as a supplement for existing methods, providing very detailed information of both individual particles and the ensemble, which they are a part of,” Anders Brostrøm clarifies.

The results are published in an Open Access Journal and are available for all researchers or companies that would like to take this method into use. One of the companies that has done exactly that is Saxocon. Together with Anders Brostrøm they have developed a “high efficient Particle Device”, which is used when Saxocon offers to characterize aerosols from e.g. indoor work environments, in order to assess whether the air is toxic or safe.

Color and varnishes, plastic or welding

Based on the method, which provides very detailed information about the airborne particles, Saxocon has constructed a piece of equipment that they lend to companies. Popularly said, you press a button and the equipment collects particles from the air. After that you deliver the equipment back to Saxocon and after 10-14 days the company gets the answers from their analysis.

Senior Researcher at Saxocon and co-supervisor on the PhD project, Kirsten Kling explains:

“The Microscopy facilities at DTU Nanolab made it possible to develop the method as well as offer sampling and analysis for companies that wish to know, how safe their work environment really is.”
The PhD Project was funded by DTU and The National Research Center for the Working Environment (NFA), which contributes to the development of a healthier and safer work environment in Denmark.

Many industrial companies may have a toxic work environment - or maybe they need to disprove that there are toxic particles in the air.

“It might be the color and varnish Industry, pharma companies or others that are working with powder processes - it could be from catalysis preparation, plastic production or in the welding industry, where you - amongst others- are exposed to chromium 6. Here, we are able to analyze the aerosol particles and determine, how toxic the tested air is,” says Kirsten Kling.

But it doesn’t end here…

The new method that Anders Brostrøm has developed, measures up with the current state-of-the-art methods, and after he has published articles on this topic, new possibilities present themselves. 

”The method is now included in a project about development and characterization of standard-methods in EU, where they examine different methods for collecting particles from air. I do not have a role in the project myself, but I presented my method to them, and they would very much like to include it in their study. My hope is that the method becomes acknowledged as a standard-method, but we will see”, says Anders Brostrøm.

Saxocon impactor

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