Indoor Air Quality Sampling

What Is Air Sampling?

Air sampling is a process used to determine what airborne contaminants are present in an environment. It uses special instruments to detect contaminants such as gases, vapors, dusts, mold spore and fibers in the air.

The significance of air sampling is that these substances can cause respiratory impairments if inhaled. So air sampling helps measure air quality and determine what safety precautions they need to take.

Air sampling is vital in any home that sees high levels of airborne contaminants.

Types of Contaminants in the Air

  1. Gases: Gases are present in many workplace environments. They are shapeless fluids that expand to fill the space they occupy. Exhaust gases, arc-welding gases and internal combustion gases are all common examples in industrial workplaces. Toxic gases are hazardous to human health, and even nontoxic gases may cause harm if they impede oxygen intake.
  2. Vapors: Vapors are volatile substances that form when materials that normally exist in a solid or liquid state evaporate. In industry, organic solvents commonly produce vapors, especially solvents with low boiling points that vaporize easily at room temperature. Many vapors make their way into the body through inhalation and skin absorption.
  3. Dusts: In industry, dusts are solid airborne particles that measure between 0.1 to 25 micrometers. Dusts are usually the solid particles generated by activities like crushing, handling, breaking, detonating, grinding, crushing, blasting or shaking different materials. The materials may be organic or inorganic — rock, coal, wood, ore, metal and grain are common examples. Dusts of less than 10 micrometers in diameter are known as respirable particles because they can lodge themselves deep in the alveolar sacs of the lungs.
  4. Fumes: Fumes form when warm volatilized solids — solids that have changed into vapors – condense in cool air. The particles that make up fumes are extremely fine and easy to inhale — usually less than 1 picometer in diameter. Welding and other processes that involve molten metal tend to produce fumes.
  5. Mists: Mists are finely dispersed liquids suspended in the atmosphere. They form when vaporized liquids condense back into their liquid state, and the liquid particles become suspended in the air. They may also form when a process like atomizing disperses liquid into the air. Cutting and grinding may generate oil mists, electroplating often produces acid mists, and spray finishing processes often generate spray mists.
  6. Fibers: Fibers are long, slender, solid particles whose length often greatly exceeds their diameter. Asbestos, fiberglass and fibrous talc often break down into fibers. Processes in construction, mining, demolition and fabrication often produce these contaminants.

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