The measurement of ultrafine particles: A pilot study using a portable particle counting technique to measure generated particles during a micromachining process

  • Rodney G. Handy
  • Mark J. Jackson
  • Grant M. Robinson
  • Michael D. Lafreniere


The accurate measurement of airborne particles in the nanometer range is a challenging task. Because several studies have linked exposures to airborne ultrafine particles to elevated human health risks, the need to assess the concentrations of particles in the workplace that are below 100 nm in diameter is imperative. Several different techniques for monitoring nanoparticles are now available, and others are currently being tested for their merit. Laboratory condensation particle counters (CPC), field-portable CPC, nanometer differential mobility analyzers, electron microscopy, and other novel and experimental approaches to measuring nanoparticles have been recently used in investigations. The first part of this article gives an overview of these techniques, and provides the advantages and disadvantages for each. The second part of this article introduces a portable technique, coupling two particle measurement devices that are capable of characterizing microscale and nanoscale particles in the field environment. Specifically, this pilot study involved the use of a direct-reading CPC and a laser particle counter to measure airborne concentrations of ultrafine particles during a laboratory machining process. The measurements were evaluated in real time, and subsequently, decisions regarding human exposure could be made in an efficient and effective manner. Along with the results from this study, further research efforts in related areas are discussed.


micromachining nanoparticles particles surface engineering 


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodney G. Handy
    • 1
  • Mark J. Jackson
    • 1
  • Grant M. Robinson
    • 1
  • Michael D. Lafreniere
    • 2
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest Lafayette
  2. 2.Ohio University-Chillicothe

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