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Partic. vol. 37 pp. 134-142 (April 2018)
doi: 10.1016/j.partic.2017.06.005

Development of a portable reference aerosol generator (PRAG) for calibration of particle mass concentration measurements

François Gaie-Levrel*, Soleiman Bourrous, Tatiana Macé

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    • TEOM instruments currently used pre-weighted filters as calibration weight. • Calibration weights are not representative of atmospheric particle mass measurements. • Calibration weights overlook technical problems in sampling and microbalance filtration systems. • It is necessary to establish a PM standard for such particle mass concentration instruments.


The tapered element oscillating microbalance with filter dynamics measurement system (TEOM-FDMS) is an instrument commonly employed by the French air quality monitoring network. This instrument is currently calibrated with calibration weights traceable to SI but having value and mass differences between each of them that are not representative of real atmospheric particle mass measurements. Moreover, these calibration weights do not allow detection of any technical problems associated with either the TEOM-FDMS sampling system upstream of the mass measurement or the intrinsic TEOM-FDMS filtration system. Therefore, a calibration method was developed using a portable reference aerosol generator (PRAG) that produces known and stable particle mass concentrations over time. Here, we present the characterization of the PRAG system in terms of a reference range of particle masses between 30 ± 10 and 3456 ± 83 μg at three sampling times. Its coupling with the TEOM-FDMS and a global comparison between the defined reference range of particle masses and the measured masses obtained with each TEOM-FDMS implicated in this study are also presented.

Graphical abstract


Aerosol; Generator; Mass concentration; Particulate mass; Calibration; TEOM-FDMS