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MS-200 Application Note - Ambient pollution

Results from our portable mass spectrometer MS-200 (A Converging Annular Time-of-flight mass spectrometer) demonstrate its ability to measure ambient air contamination in the low p.p.b. region using our new membrane concentrator inlet and mixture analysis software. For example measurements of ambient air have been made around Cambridge, where the levels of benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX) have been determined using the built-in automatic mixture analysis routine. Measurements of BTX level variations during the rush hour period were made near the the Science Park approach road, and 'snapshot' measurements of BTX levels were made in a variety of locations. In addition, the MS-200 has been used to measure BTX levels in the City centre, alongside a standard GC. These measurements were made with the help of Cambridge City Council.

Figure 1 : BTX levels at different sites around Cambridge
Bar chart

The results obtained show that the MS-200 can be used to measure pollution levels due to vehicle emissions either continuously or in a single measurement mode. The results obtained are similar to those from a traditional trap-desorb GC in the monitoring mode. The 'about town' measurements give results as expected, and indicate that the MS-200 can be used in a very practical way to give useful pollution measurements.

Figure 2 : Variation in total BTX during the evening rush-hour outside the Cambridge Science Park.

Figure 3 : Comparison of T-CAT measurements with conventional GC

Furthermore MS-200's portability means that measurements can be made in-situ. For example we could measure the exposure to pollutants that a typical automobile commuter might experience when travelling from home, filling up with gasoline, getting stuck in a traffic jam, driving past the local chemical works and finally parking in a multi-storey car-park. Information that may well convince the commuter to take the train instead!


Last updated: Friday, October 07, 2005, 17:20

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