A personal air sampling pump is the simplest piece of equipment used to collect a representative air sample. These pumps are generally small and have an internal battery so they can be worn during a typical workday and run without recharging for over 8 hours. They can also be placed in an area of concern for collection an area sample. Examples of these types of pumps include the Gilian GilAir-5, Casella APEX PRO.
When worn on the person they often are hung from the belt and tubing is then attached to the pump head. The other end of the tubing runs up the body and is clipped at the collar area. Consultants can attach any number of sampling media such as sorbent tubes or cassettes that will absorb/collect a sample as the pump pulls air through/across the sample media at the collar area. The media is always placed closest to the person/s nose or mouth since a person/s exposure level to one type chemical or dust is the basis for these types of studies. Sample media can be obtained by various labs throughout the country depending on what type of health concern you need to monitor for.
In other applications, the pumps can be used to fill tedlar bag air samples. These samples can be sent to a lab for analysis, or checked with a real time analyzer such as the Dielectric MGD-2002, RAE MiniRAE 3000 or RAE ppbRAE.
Proper sampling techniques usually require the pump to run for a specified period of time at a certain flow rate. The flow rate of these pumps can be determined and calibrated using a flow calibrator. The two types of flow calibrators are wet and dry calibrators. An example of a dry calibrator is the Sensidyne Go-Cal. Calibrating the air pump before sampling is crucial if accuracy is important.
The standard flow range for pumps such as the Gilian GilAir-5 and Casella APEX PRO is between 2-5 liters per minute (LPM). In some cases, low-flow sampling requires flow rates much lower than this. Some pumps, like the Gilian GilAir-5, can be outfitted with a low-flow module to reduce the flow rate down to 5-500 mL/minute (cc/min). In other cases, hi-flow rates exceeding 10 LPM are needed and require the use of pumps such as the Gast Hi-Flow Pump which is powered from a wall outlet.
Due to their ease of use and versatility, sampling pumps are often found at landfill sites for obtaining samples from environmental monitoring wells, pulling samples from ports on remediation equipment, and at facilities or factories where any number or industrial hygiene studies like mold assessment and asbestos assessment are being conducted.