Improved atmospheric sampling of hexavalent chromium

Mehdi Amouei Torkmahalleh, Chang Ho Yu, Lin Lin, Zhihua (Tina) Fan, Julie L. Swift, Linda Bonanno, Don H. Rasmussen, Thomas M. Holsen, Philip K. Hopke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) and trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) are the primary chromium oxidation states found in ambient atmospheric particulate matter. While Cr(III) is relatively nontoxic, Cr(VI) is toxic and exposure to Cr(VI) may lead to cancer, nasal damage, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonitis. Accurate measurement of the ambient Cr(VI) concentrations is an environmental challenge since Cr(VI) can be reduced to Cr(III) and vice versa during sampling. In the present study, a new Cr(VI) sampler (Clarkson sampler) was designed, constructed, and field tested to improve the sampling of Cr(VI) in ambient air. The new Clarkson Cr(VI) sampler was based on the concept that deliquescence during sampling leads to aqueous phase reactions. Thus, the relative humidity of the sampled air was reduced below the deliquescence relative humidity (DRH) of the ambient particles. The new sampler was operated to collect total suspended particles (TSP), and compared side-by-side with the current National Air Toxics Trends Stations (NATTS) Cr(VI) sampler that is utilized in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air toxics monitoring program. Side-by-side field testing of the samplers occurred in Elizabeth, NJ, during the winter and summer of 2012. The average recovery values of Cr(VI) spikes after 24-hr sampling intervals during summer and winter sampling were 57 and 72%, respectively, for the Clarkson sampler, while the corresponding average values for NATTS samplers were 46% for both summer and winter sampling, respectively. Preventing the ambient aerosol collected on the filters from deliquescing is a key to improving the sampling of Cr(VI). This study describes a sampler that provides cooling and drying of the particle collection filter by reducing the ambient air relative humidity to below deliquescence relative humidity of ambient particles. This Clarkson Cr(VI) sampler improved the measurement of ambient Cr(VI) concentration. It showed higher Cr(VI) recovery during field tests (71.8 ± 4.9% in winter and 57.1 ± 0.2 % in summer) compared to the current EPA Cr(VI) sampler (46.2 ± 10.8% in winter and 46.0 ± 1.6% in summer) that is employed in the National Air Toxics Trends Stations (NATTS) monitoring program. Supplemental Materials: Supplemental materials are available for this paper. Go to the publisher's online edition of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1323
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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