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Particle dispersion studies

Particle transport and dispersion is key phenomenon that strongly affects both indoor and outdoor air quality. As aerosol particles are ubiquitous in real-world environments, however, it can be difficult to track specific ones with common detectors such as particle counters and PM sensors.

Flame photometry is an alternative technique which can overcome this limitation; originally used to measure the concentration of metallic ions in solution, it is now a recognised standard used also for aerosols analysis (e.g., in EN149:2001+A1:2009). Thanks to its high sensitivity and selectivity it can be used to track particle dispersion in both indoor and outdoor environments.

particle dispersion
dispersion plot

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought air quality and particle dispersion under the spotlight. Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is increasingly used as a general means of assessing the efficacy of ventilation, but the transport of particles in air can be very different to that of gases. Safe aerosols such as sodium chloride (NaCl) solution can be used to study the transport of evaporating droplets in real environments, which is essential in the study of disease transmission. As the mass of NaCl in each droplet remains constant, this technique represents a realistic proxy to trace viral load in exhaled droplets.

For more details on indoor aerosol dispersion read our conference poster featuring the Aerosol Flame Photometer.

placeholder for agricultural sprays

Dispersion of outdoors sprays is also very important for public health. While agricultural sprays are designed to rapidly fall and deposit on the cultivations, the smaller fraction of the size distribution can dry rapidly and be transported much further than intended. In this case the Aerosol Flame Photometer can selectively track the particles of interest, while remaining insensitive to other background aerosols that might be present.

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