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Evaluation and Application of a Passive Air Sampler for Atmospheric Volatile Organic Compounds

Category: Air Toxics

Volume: 18 | Issue: 12 | Pages: 3047-3055
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2018.03.0096
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Cenyan Huang1,2,3, Lei Tong1,3, Xiaorong Dai1,3, Hang Xiao 1,3

  • 1 Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3 Ningbo Urban Environment Observation and Research Station-NUEORS, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ningbo 315830, China


The sampler is cost-effective and pretty convenient for outdoor deployment.
The performance of the sampler is comparable to previous commercial samplers.
The calibrated sampling rates are highly close to the theoretical values.
The BTEX concentrations compared favorably with both active and passive values.


In this study, we propose a passive air sampler (PAS) that mainly consists of activated charcoal sorbent, a radial diffusive body, and a protective shield for the outdoor monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Due to its reusable accessories and small size, this PAS is cost-effective and highly convenient for outdoor deployment. The estimated sampling rates (SRs) for 28 VOCs were very close to the theoretical values over a 6-month field test. We evaluated the performance of the PAS with benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) and determined the method detection limits (MDLs) (0.02–0.04 µg m–3), recovery values (95.3 ± 9.8–99.8 ± 7.5%), repeatability (3.2 ± 2.2–4.6 ± 2.9%), and uncertainties (10.1 ± 3.8–12.9 ± 4.5%), which are comparable to those of previously reported samplers and meet the requirements of European Standards (EN) 13528. The deployment times for obtaining reliable time-weighted average (TWA) atmospheric concentrations of BTEX ranged from 2 days to a minimum of 3 months according to corresponding background concentrations in the ambient air. Moreover, the atmospheric concentrations of BTEX measured by the sampler in this study compared favorably with values from both active and passive sampling methods, with R2 ≥ 0.97 (p < 0.0001). Finally, a 12-month field test was performed after evaluating the sampler, and the results showed apparent seasonal variations of atmospheric VOC concentrations, which were dominated by the sampling location and wind direction.


Volatile organic compounds VOCs BTEX Passive sampler PAS Sampling rate Deployment time

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