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Comparison of low cost measurement techniques for long-term monitoring of atmospheric ammonia

By M. A. Sutton, M A Miners, Y. S. Tang, C Milford, G P Wyers, J H Duyzer and D. Fowler


An inter-comparison of techniques for long-term sampling of atmospheric ammonia (NH3) was conducted with a view to establishing a national network with >50 sites. Key requirements were for: a low cost system, simplicity and durability to enable a postal exchange with local site operators, a precision of <±20% for monthly sampling at expected NH3 concentrations of 1–2 µg m–3, a detection limit sufficient to resolve the small NH3 concentrations (<0.2 µg m–3) expected in remote parts of the UK, and a quantitative means to establish quality control. Five sampling methods were compared: A, a commercially available membrane diffusion tube (exposed in triplicate), with membranes removed immediately after sampling; B, the above method, with the membranes left in place until analysis; C, open-ended diffusion tubes (exposed with 4 replicates); D, a new active sampling diffusion denuder system; and E, an active sampling bubbler system. Method D consisted of two 0.1 m acid coated glass denuders in series with sampling at 0.3 l min–1. These methods were deployed at 6 locations in the UK and the Netherlands and compared against reference estimates. Method D was the most precise and sensitive of the techniques compared, with a detection limit of <0.1 µg m–3. The bubbler provided a less precise estimate of NH3 concentration, and also suffered several practical drawbacks. The diffusion tubes were found to correlate with the reference at high concentrations (>3 µg m–3), but were less precise and overestimated NH3 at smaller concentrations. Of the passive methods, A was the most precise and C the least precise. On the basis of the results, method D has been implemented in the national network, together with application of method A to explore spatial variability in regions with expected high NH3 concentrations. \u

Topics: Ecology and Environment, Atmospheric Sciences
Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry
Year: 2001
DOI identifier: 10.1039/b102303a
OAI identifier:
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