Aerosol Sampling Program: fine particle pollution research
ANSTO has been using Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) techniques to analyse fine particle pollution samples collected from key sites around Australia, and internationally, for more than 20 years. Above is a short video of Professor David Cohen explaining how IBA techniques are helping to reveal the sources of Sydney's fine particle air pollution.
Comprehensive ASP publications and databases are available on this website.
To request access to aerosol measurement/characterisation at the Centre for Accelerator Science, please use the ANSTO Research Portal
Where does fine particle pollution come from?
These fine particles can also cause significant health problems, as the human nose and throat are inefficient at filtering them out, meaning they can penetrate deep into the lungs and even our blood stream. The image below provides a size comparison of some common airborne particles.
How fine particle samples are collected
Fine particle samples are collected on thin stretched Teflon filters and analysed using Ion Beam Analysis, which is a fast, sensitive and non-destructive way of establishing the chemical elemental and concentration of particles on the filter. The following animation illustrates the process:
Air is drawn through the air inlet via a narrow gap under the weatherproof cap
It passes down through the stack tube and into the cyclone
After entering the cyclone it begins to spiral where centrifugal forces remove the heavy particles
The lighter PM2.5 particles then continue travelling upwards where they collide with the this stretched tefon filter surface and become trapped. After a set time the filters are removed from the cyclone ready for analysis
Each Teflon filter is then analysed using accelerator-based IBA techniques, which provide a fast, sensitive and non-destructive way of establishing the elemental composition and concentration, more than 20 elements including for example silicon, iron, sulphur and lead, can be identified within the filter.
ANSTO has been tracking and publishing data on fine particle pollution from key sites around Australia, and internationally, for more than 20 years.
To view data on fine particle pollution from key sites along the New South Wales (Australia) coast, click the marker on the map. Select the year from the drop down list that appears below the map and add or remove items in the graph by checking or unchecking the boxes.
Fine particle concentration contour maps have been generated using long-term ANSTO ASP data collected in Sydney from 2007-2013.
Monthly average PM2.5 concentrations from 2007-2013 have been used to produce contour maps which provide an indication of fine particle concentration levels from Wollongong through Sydney to Newcastle in NSW, Australia.
A bounding box of 8° x 8° was defined with Sydney (located at 151.2086°E, 33.8683°S) being in the centre of the box. Kriging (a Gaussian process regression method) was then used to carry out a spatial interpolation.
Given that data from only seven ASP sampling sites were available for the interpolation; and effectively an extrapolation was being obtained further form these monitoring locations, the values at the boundary of the box were set to the median values of the data-set divided by 5 and data further than 100km from any ASP site should be treated with caution.
The boundary was chosen such that it had small impact on interpolated values close to the locations where measurements were available.
Upper Hunter particle characterisation study
The Upper Hunter Fine Particle Characterisation Study commenced in January 2012 to study the composition of fine particles 2.5 microns and smaller in diameter (PM2.5) in the Upper Hunter Valley towns of Singleton and Muswellbrook.
More details, the final report and a summary of the findings can be found here: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/uhaqmnfpcs.htm
The project was jointly funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and NSW Health, with co-investment from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) as the lead researcher. OEH staff conducted the sampling at each location. Researchers from CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) led sample analysis, evaluation and the reporting of results.
Lower Hunter particle characterisation study