analysis of small particles in the airOn receiving notification on the release of an ion chromatography application for the analysis of airborne particulate matter, I realized the last application on this subject was more than six months ago! This new method determines more analytes relevant to air contamination (link to U.S. EPA page on air pollutants) than either of the two standard methods currently in use.

The two standard ion chromatography methods currently used to determine the anion content include the U.S. EPA Method 26A (downloadable PDF) and ASTM International’s Standard Test Method ASTM D5085-02 (link to method page). However, the number of analytes detected and the method sensitivity of both approaches are inadequate when compared to newer technologies and current knowledge of air contaminants. Thus, organizations responsible for monitoring and managing air quality need new methods with greater sensitivity and expanded detection capabilities.

By the way, did you see the recent news story on air pollution levels reaching 20x of the safe levels of exposure as per the World Health Organization’s guideline in the province of Hebei, China, last week? (Link to story.)

The efficient and sensitive method described in Application Note 1107, Determination of Anions and Carboxylic Acids in Urban Fine Particles (PM2.5), (downloadable PDF), determines the following inorganic anions and carboxylic acids in airborne PM2.5: fluoride, acetate, formate, mesylate, chloride, nitrate, succinate, malonate, sulfate, and oxalate. All anions of interest were separated in less than 35 mins. The urban air samples were provided by the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University (People’s Republic of China) and the application was developed by scientists at our Shanghai Applications Lab (People’s Republic of China).

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The method was developed using one of our high-pressure ion chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-5000+ RFIC HPIC system) equipped with an anion-exchange column (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS11-HC column). The ease of the method is such that an analyst merely has to add samples to the RFIC system to measure the 12 target inorganic anions and organic acids.

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