Use of a continuous nephelometer to measure personal exposure to particles during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Baltimore and Fresno Panel studies

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2000 Jul;50(7):1125-32. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2000.10464150.


In population exposure studies, personal exposure to PM is typically measured as a 12- to 24-hr integrated mass concentration. To better understand short-term variation in personal PM exposure, continuous (1-min averaging time) nephelometers were worn by 15 participants as part of two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) longitudinal PM exposure studies conducted in Baltimore County, MD, and Fresno, CA. Participants also wore inertial impactor samplers (24-hr integrated filter samples) and recorded their daily activities in 15-min intervals. In Baltimore, the nephelometers correlated well (R2 = 0.66) with the PM2.5 impactors. Time-series plots of personal nephelometer data showed each participant's PM exposure to consist of a series of peaks of relatively short duration. Activities corresponding to a significant instrument response included cooking, outdoor activities, transportation, laundry, cleaning, shopping, gardening, moving between microenvironments, and removing/putting on the instrument. On average, 63-66% of the daily PM exposure occurred indoors at home (about 2/3 of which occurred during waking hours), primarily due to the large amount of time spent in that location (an average of 72-77%). Although not a reference method for measuring mass concentration, the nephelometer did help identify PM sources and the relative contribution of those sources to an individual's personal exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nephelometry and Turbidimetry
  • Particle Size