Evaluating the capabilities of portable black carbon monitors and photometers for measuring airborne carbon nanotubes

  • Naomi Hashimoto
  • Isamu OguraEmail author
  • Mari Kotake
  • Atsuo Kishimoto
  • Kazumasa Honda
Research Paper


For daily monitoring of occupational exposure to aerosolized carbon nanotubes (CNTs) where CNTs are manufactured and handled, inexpensive real-time measuring methods are preferable. In this study, we evaluated the capabilities of a portable black carbon monitor (BCM; also called an aethalometer) and a light-scattering aerosol photometer in detecting airborne CNTs. The responses of these instruments to airborne CNTs, aerosolized through vortex shaking, were evaluated by comparing the measurements of CNT mass concentrations made by these instruments to those determined through thermal carbon analysis. Results showed that their raw readings underestimated CNT mass concentrations in most cases. Their sensitivities depended on the type of CNTs and decreased with the particle sizes of aerosolized CNT clumps. We also found that the sensitivity of the BCM tended to substantially decrease with increasing filter load, even before the point at which the filter should be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer, which could be attributed to a clean environmental condition (i.e., the absence of ubiquitous light-scattering material). As an example of the use of these instruments for measuring airborne CNTs in the presence of background aerosols, a CNT-handling simulation was also conducted. Although both the BCM and the photometer could detect CNT emissions, the BCM was more sensitive to the detection of emitted CNTs in the presence of background aerosols. The correction factors obtained from the response evaluations could enhance the measurement accuracy of these instruments, which will be helpful for the daily monitoring of CNTs at workplaces.


Aerosols Carbon nanotubes CNTs Exposure Light-scattering photometer Black carbon monitor Aethalometer 



This work was funded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan (NEDO) under a Grant for “Innovative carbon nanotubes composite materials project toward achieving a low-carbon society” (No. P10024).

Supplementary material

11051_2013_2033_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (254 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 254 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Hashimoto
    • 1
  • Isamu Ogura
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mari Kotake
    • 1
  • Atsuo Kishimoto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kazumasa Honda
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Technology Research Association for Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes (TASC)TsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Research Institute of Science for Safety and Sustainability (RISS)National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)TsukubaJapan

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