Conceptual limitations and extensions of lung-deposited Nanoparticle Surface Area Monitor (NSAM)

C. Asbach, H. Fissan, B. Stahlmecke, T. A.J. Kuhlbusch, D. Y.H. Pui

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116 Scopus citations


Nanoparticle Surface Area Monitor (NSAM, TSI model 3550 and Aerotrak 9000) is an instrument designed to measure airborne surface area concentrations that would deposit in the alveolar or tracheobronchial region of the lung. It was found that the instrument can only be reliably used for the size range of nanoparticles between 20 and 100 nm. The upper size range can be extended to 400 nm, where the minimum in the deposition curves occurs. While the fraction below 20 nm usually contributes only negligibly to the total surface area and is therefore not critical, a preseparator is needed to remove all particles above 400 nm in cases where the size distribution extends into the larger size range. Besides limitations in the particle size range, potential implications of extreme concentrations up to the coagulation limit, particle material (density and composition) and particle morphology are discussed. While concentration does not seem to pose any major constraints, the effect of different agglomerate shapes still has to be further investigated. Particle material has a noticeable impact neither on particle charging in NSAM nor on the deposition curves within the aforementioned size range, but particle hygroscopicity can cause the lung deposition curves to change significantly which currently cannot be mimicked with the instrument. Besides limitations, possible extensions are also discussed. It was found that the tendencies of the particle deposition curves of a reference worker for alveolar, tracheobronchial, total and nasal depositions share the same tendencies in the 20-400 nm size range and that their ratios are almost constant. This also seems to be the case for different individuals and under different breathing conditions. By means of appropriate calibration factors NSAM can be used to deliver the lung deposited surface area concentrations in all these regions, based on a single measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • EHS
  • NSAM
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nanotechnology
  • Occupational health
  • Surface area


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