A comparative evaluation of passive and active samplers for measurements of gaseous semi-volatile organic compounds in the tropical atmosphere

Jun He, Rajasekhar Balasubramanian

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The polyurethane foam (PUF) disk-based passive air samplers (PAS), mounted inside two aluminium bowls to buffer the air flow to the disk and to shield it from precipitation and sunlight, were used for the collection of atmospheric SVOCs in Singapore during April 2008-June 2008. Data obtained from PAS measurements are compared to those from active high-volume air sampling (AAS). Single factor ANOVA tests show that there were no significant differences in chemical distribution profiles between actively and passively collected samples (PAHs, F = 3.38 × 10-8 < Fcritical = 4.17 with p > 0.05; OCPs, F = 2.71 × 10-8 < Fcritical = 4.75 with p > 0.05). The average air-side mass transfer coefficient (kA) for PAS, determined from the loss of depuration compounds such as 13C6 - HCB (1000 ng), 13C12 - 4,4′ DDT (1000 ng) and 13C12 - PCB 101 (1000 ng)spiked on the disks prior to deployment, was 0.12 ± 0.04 m s-1. These values are comparable to those reported previously in the literature. The average sampling rate was 3.78 ± 1.83 m3 d-1 for the 365 cm2 PUF disk. Throughout the entire sampling period (∼68 d), most of the PAHs and all OCPs exhibited a linear uptake trend on PAS, while naphthalene, acenaphthylene, acenaphthene and fluorene reached the curvilinear phase after the first ∼30 d exposure. Theoretically estimated times to equilibrium (teq) ranged from around one month for Acy to hundreds of years for DB(ah)A. Sampling rates, based on the time integrated active sampling-derived concentrations and masses collected by PUF disks during the linear uptake phase, were determined for all target compounds with the average values of 2.50 m3 d-1 and 3.43 m3 d-1 for PAHs and OCPs, respectively. More variations were observed as compared to those from the depuration study. These variation were most likely due to the difference of physicochemical properties of individual species. Lastly, multiple linear regression models were developed to estimate the log-transformed gaseous concentration of an individual compound in air based on the mass collection rate of the gaseous SVOCs measured using the PAS and the molecular weight (MW) of the particular compound for both PAHs and OCPs, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-891
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Air-side mass transfer coefficient
  • PUF disk
  • Passive sampling
  • SVOCs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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