Some Critical Facets in Air Pollution Monitoring

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Managing Director

Envirotech Instruments Pvt. Ltd.
A-271, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase - 1 , New Delhi - 110020 (email:


BACKGROUND The prime objective of air quality monitoring is to find out prevailing concentration of air pollutants with accuracy of 1 Dg/m3. depend upon several factors. accuracy expectations. Qualification, training and experience of man power can improve quality of generated data. However if monitoring personnel are motivated absolute equally responsible for reliable data generation This accuracy is Man and machine are the two basic facets which can meet aforesaid

reliability in collected data can ensured without further efforts even in existing setup. Similarly the monitoring instruments have to be accurate, precise and regularly calibrated without which quality data generation is out of question.

CPCB have already specified following accuracy limits for critical parameters recorded by a monitoring system used for AAQM. Flow rate accurate upto Time accurate upto Above parameters required to +5% ± 1 min. be critically examined in monitoring

instruments and must be ensured within specified accuracy limits for maintaining desired accuracy of measurements.

1.1 1.

PRESENT SCENARIO About Man power : The manpower deployed for regular air quality monitoring either in NAAQM or in any other monitoring program most of time are not adequately qualified and experienced. Formal training has never been given to these staff. Most 60

critical part is that the people engaged in these monitorings are not motivated for the assigned jobs.

Besides this there are several other serious limitations with man power like they are overloaded with work due to less staff, have no clear cut instructions about monitoring for acceptance and rejection of sample, have no freedom to put there problems and view point with senior and experienced officers. At last there salaries are neither attractive not revised since long hence whenever there are opportunities people are escaping. About the Machines : Monitoring instruments used for assessment of air pollution are prone to drift and may show variation with time in measured parameters. Hence it is a false expectation that their calibrations are stable over long period of time.

As per standard requirements calibration need to be done. • • When instrument is manufactured. When instrument is transported to a new location and in different climatic condition. • • • If instrument is operated after interruption of several months. After repairs or overhaul of key components. After observing significant drift either in zero or span value or in recorded value. The monitoring instruments used in regular air pollution monitoring either under NAAQM or in other project are not calibrated as per above requirements. Even when it is known that regular calibration of monitoring

instrument is a basic need for reliable data generation.

In general life of a HVS/RDS is about 5 years. But instruments are not retired even after crossing age of 10 years and more with old machine (not regularly calibrated with age of 10 years and above) reliability of data are expected similar as expected with new calibrated machines. 61

Table below show the age distribution of installed HVS at various NAAQM stations. S.No. 1. 2. 3. 4. Age (years) 10 and above 7-10 5-7 Less than 5 Total No. of Machine 32 75 28 06 141

(Source Status Report on Servicing of HVS Installed at Various NAAQM Station in India - 1995)

Over all it can be said that conditions of machines used in air quality monitoring are critical and are not good for reliable data generation. generated as per requirements. In such situation when conditions of man and machine are weak reliable data can not be


Difficulties of Calibration : Users face following difficulties while calibration of instruments. • Calibration facilities are not available at number of places in the country. Further all required set-ups related to the calibration of air pollution monitoring are not available with one agency. • Reference set up at calibrating agencies are not portable enough hence calibration at site is not possible. Thus monitoring system need to be taken to calibration agencies for calibration. It is not easy to transport HVS/RDS from distant places. Besides this cost of transportation is also significant where possibilities of damages are always there. • Time taken for calibration is several weeks since spare machines are not available hence calibration is postponed due to this limitation. • Cost of calibration is very high most of the time more than the cost of instrument to be calibrated. Some calibration costs are given below.


S.No, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. •

Name of the item Portable calibrator for flow rate calibration Thermometer (6 points) Dry gas meter Pyrometer + thermocouple Pitot Tube Stop Watch Weights (5 Nos.)

Cost of item calibrator (Rs.) 15,000 100 5,000 4,000 1,500 1,000 1,000

Cost of calibration (Rs.) 28,000 1,200 25,000 10,000 3,000 2,500 3,000

Calibration of supplied instrument is done as per understanding of the scientist undertaking the calibration. Number of situations have been faced when calibrations are not done as per requirements and significant errors are observed in calibration data.

Once instrument is calibrated user do not try to look into the calibration data and graph. Further values are not corrected for observed errors indicated in calibration. Calibration graph and reports are only used to show that this instrument is calibrated.

There is no clarity about frequency of calibration. For one type of instrument one organization says recalibration is due after one year while other says it is due after 3 years. It appears that frequency of calibration is decided by calibrating agency arbitrarily.

1.3 (A)

SUGGESTED METHODOLOGY: For field calibration. Keeping above difficulties in mind Envirotech has setup Roots meter, a

primary standard device for finding out possitive displacement of air. This unit is traceable to NISST and used for calibration of portable Top Loading calibrator and also monitoring instrument. The portable calibrator is useful in the field for calibration of machines at site of their operation. How calibrator is calibrated? How sampler is calibrated using calibrated calibrator?

Procedure has been discussed in the methodology of calibration given in Annexure - 1 .


Since calibration is required only for those parameters which are taking part in the calculation. In HVS/RDS following units need to be calibrated: for flow - orifice - manometer and rotameter for time - time totalizer All these units are possible to calibrate in the field using calibrated portable Top Loading Calibrator, Dry Gas Meter and Stop Watch. (B) For Calibration at Our Works. Machines which can be brought at our works are calibrated using Roots meter for flow rate at various pressure drop equal to the clean filter and dust loaded filter. Rotameter calibration is carried out using soap bubble meter or using dry gas meter depending upon the capacity of Rotameter. For establishing cut off of the cyclone unit of RDS, collected dust on filter paper and cyclone cup is analysed for particle size distribution on lesser based particle size analyser. Rough estimate of cut-off of the cyclone can

also be done using manual method with help of projection microscope. 1.4 OTHER CRITICAL FACTS OF AIR POLLUTION MONITORING RESULTING UNRELIABLE DATA GENERATION 1. 2. Filter handling is not done as per recommended procedure. Filter are not checked for pin holes. Experiences of this author say that in

every box of 100 sheets 4-5 filters are found damaged with pin holes need to be rejected and should not be used in sampling. 3. At some places it has been observed that filters are dryed at 105°C for few hours prior to weighing instead of putting them in desiccator with active absorbent at room temp (17-27°C) and at low humidity (0-50 % R.H.) as per standard procedure notified by BIS/CPCB. 4. Cleaning of filter gaskets, top cover, inlet pipe, cyclone assembly is not done at periodic intervals.



Manometer tube water is not replaced at specified intervals and there are situation, when tap water is found filled in the tube responsible for erroneous recording of flow readings.

6. 7.

Initial zero level in manometer is not maintained accurately. Carbon accumulated in blower is not cleaned at periodic interval causes break down and variation of rpm of armatures. Resulting flow fluctuations.


Manual of instrument most of time neither available with operator nor read by operators. Thus precautions suggested by manufacturer are never followed resulting errors in sampling and break down of the machine due to mishandling.


In case of gaseous attachment ice is not kept in ice box, flow setting is done casually, Cleaning of manifold is never done where fine particulates escaping from impinger solution found to be deposited on the body of needle valve ultimately responsible for reduction of flow rate because pressure drop at needle valve is changed during sampling of gaseous pollutants.


Impingers are not properly greased and leakages are common in impingers in present practices. This ultimately responsible for escaping a part of gases without absorption in the reagents.


It has been seen that impingers used for sampling of gaseous pollutants do not meet BIS/CPCB published specifications. Due to change in dimensions concentration of gaseous pollutants absorbed in the reagent influenced significantly.


Cleaning of impinger tip with pore size of 1mm is not done after each sampling. At tip deposition of salts and particulates while sampling causes reduction of flow rate due to change in pressure drop at the tip.


In case of Respirable Dust Sampler collected dust in cyclone cup must be removed with every filter change otherwise if accumulated dust in cyclone cup is collected beyond the capacity it shall re-entrained with air stream and may reach to filter paper and effect collection of Respirable Dust.


It has been observed that flow reading are taken immediate after switching on the blower. Which results recording of inaccurate flow rate because 65

steady flow is only achieved after 4-5 minute of operation. needed to set the motor brushes. 15.

This time is

Availability and quality of power is the most critical parameter influencing monitoring duration and thus measured concentrations also. Frequency of power (50 cycles/sec) become critical about electrical components like Time Totalizer where readings are known to be influenced significantly if frequency of power is changed.

1.5 « •

RECOMMENDATIONS : Man power operating instruments need to be qualified, trained and motivated. Periodic check of monitoring methodology must be done by an experienced team through field evaluation on each site where actual sample collection analysis and calculation of results must be supervised and operators are advised . Such evaluation must be done once in year for all locations.

Regular calibration of monitoring instruments must be done as per requirements of calibration.

Calibration requirements and frequency of calibration must be made a part of the standard as method of sampling and analysis is mentioned in air quality standard.


On going practices which do not match with standard procedure need to be stopped so that generation of reliable data can be ensured.


CPCB should set-up calibration centres at their various zonal laboratories where calibration of HVS/RDS and other air pollution monitoring instruments is done for various users in the area on payment basis. While calibration freedom need to be given to the user to witness the method of calibration and obtained data.


Annexure -1 METHODOLOGY OF CALIBRATION OF HVS/RDS • • • Flow metric devices used in HVS/RDS are orifice and manometer which indicate flow in m3/min. Flow measurements are based on observed differential pressure. Thus for flow calibration, procedure has to be performed against a known air flow. Top loading calibrators where a calibration orifice unit with resistance plates (load plates) are used for calibration of flow rate. Calibration orifice resistance plates and manometer is shown in figure 1.0. Calibration unit is consist of a modular pipe with static pressure tap located at one end (closed to calibration orifice). Farther end away from static tap is flanged. In this portion resistance plates are accommodated while calibration. Near end of the static pressure tap is fitted with a metal plate with an air inlet which has a fix dia hole. This hole is the orifice on which the calibration procedures are based. Five resistance plates are used to create resistance of filter with varying particulate loading. The resistance plates have 5,7,10, 13 & 18 holes. The plate with 18 holes represents a clean filter while other plates represents a filter with increasingly heavy dust loading. Series of steady flows are drawn through the orifice unit for each resistance plate. The air flow is recorded along with corresponding pressure differential from the manometer attached to the pressure tap of the orifice unit. Placement of orifice unit before the primary standard (Roots meter) reduces the inlet pressure to this meter below atmospheric pressure. To compensate for this a second manometer is attached to an inlet pressure tap of the primary standard. After recording barometric pressure, the true volume of air drawn though primary roots meter is calculated.
Pbarometric Vtrue ~ [ Pbarometric

Pmeasured -I * ^measured


Barometeic Pressure at place of calibration mmHg. Pmeasured Measured Pressure mmHg Vmeasured = Value measured = Vtme True flow rate at ambient conditions True flow rate can be calculated by


Q (m /rain) = Time of flow (min)



A plot of orifice manometer pressure reading versus true floW' rate is generated which become calibration curve for calibrator which is used to calibrate HVS/RDS. This Top Loading Calibrated Calibrator is fitted at the inlet of sampler with 18 hole resistance plate in place properly so that there is no leakages. Calibrator pressure tap is connected to one end of manometer and other end left open to atmosphere. 67

Sampler is switched on and allowed to run for 5 minute for steady flow (this time is needed to set the motor brushes). Reading indicated by the sampler and pressure reading of the manometer is recorded. This is done for different resistance plates. Find out true flow rate reading against recorded pressures in manometer. A plot of sampler flow rate versus true flow rate reading is plotted and best fit curve not more than one point of inflection is used as calibration curve of HVS/RDS. When using the Orifice Calibration unit to calibrate a HVS/RDS correction must be made to indicated flow if actual atmospheric temperature and pressure vary from calibration conditions. Corrected flow can be calculated as. Qcorrcct - QlJncorrcct [(T2 Pl)/(Tj P2)]
Corrected flow rate Uncorrected flow rate reading from orifice manometer calibration curve. Absolute temp at orifice calibration condition. Absolute temp when calibrating the sampler. Barometric pressure at orifice calibration conditions mmHg. Barometric pressures when calibrating the sampler monitoring mmHg

Ti T2 Pi P2


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