Using an Environmental Particle Counter and Why it “Counts”!
The quality of air in the environments that we work and breathe in everyday plays a very important role in many different applications. Throughout this article, I hope to provide a simple, but yet informative look at why an environmental particle counter is needed and what the advantages of the Triplett Environmental Particle Counter EPC600 has over some of the other instruments on the market. What does it do? Who needs it? How can it help me?
First, let’s look at what an environmental particle counter actually does?
Plain and simple, a particle counter is used to detect airborne contaminants and are typically used for IAQ (indoor air quality) testing. Their size and portability makes them easy to transport to different test sites. They work by counting and sizing the number of particles in the air. This can help determine the air quality level in a building or industrial work environment. The EPC600 can simultaneously measure 6 channels of particle sizes down to 0.3µm and displays them on a 2.8” Color TFT display. Additional measurements include Air Temperature, Humidity, Dew Point and Wet Bulb.
Next, let’s look at some of the applications that particle counters are widely used in.
Everyday these instruments are being used to help professionals in the predictive maintenance, diagnosis and correction process of poor air quality. Poor air quality could result in anything from safety and health issues such as poor breathing for a company’s employees to unsuitable conditions for manufacturing and production. Some of the applications include but are not limited to: semi-conductors, pharmaceuticals, data centers, optics, aerospace, cleanrooms, operating rooms, diesel vehicle transportation & service depots, flour milling & agricultural field burning, charcoal-based heating/cooking, traffic-related emissions, cement manufacturing, mining, & stone crushing.
Now that we’ve established the “what” and the “who” it helps, let’s look at the “how” it helps.
For example, we will take a manufacturing/production area. Usually, for sensitive operations areas are environmentally controlled and the area may look very clean to us, but that being said, there are many contaminants that are not detected by the naked eye. Also, day to day operations can cause dust and contaminants to build up over time. With a quick sampling of the EPC600 you will be able to accurately and repeatedly determine how many particles and the size of the particles that may be looming about. If the particle size is larger this could be an indication that the filtering is not working as well as it used to. This will allow for inspecting the area that may need maintenance or adjusting such as filtration systems, and or air flow rates.
The quality of indoor air can be maintained by controlling the dust produced during different manufacturing processes. This is where a highly-efficient dust collector fitted with cartridge-style filters comes to rescue. There are several types of dust collectors available today, but not all may serve your purpose. It is always important to ensure that the dust collector chosen by you is designed to filter the hazardous dust produced during your application. For this, you need to analyze the characteristics of dust produced during the manufacturing process. This will help you decide upon the effective filters and the best dust collector for your application.
Dust testing is valuable if you are installing a new dust collector system, starting a new manufacturing process and even if you have been generating and capturing the same type of dust for a long time. Changes in equipment, processes, environment or products can affect dust characteristics.
Ok, having particle count and size data is great but there are other critical conditions that need to be tested for and maintained – MOISTURE. Having too low or too high moisture in an area can lead to problems in a process. This is why the EPC600 has built in accurate Temperature and Humidity Sensors (which also provide a calculated Wet Bulb and Dew Point reading) If you are working with sensitive electronic components and the humidity is too low then you risk a higher chance of damaging components from ESD (electro-static-discharge) If you are a pharmaceutical company and have too high humidity then you risk problems. The majority of pharmaceutical products are highly hygroscopic and tend to suffer physical, enzymatic, microbiological and biochemical deterioration after coming in contact with moisture. Have you ever opened up you Centrum Multivitamin bottle and have trouble getting a pill out because of the desiccant pack is in the way?? Haha…Now you know why it’s in there! The EPC600 can save you from producing a defective, damaged batch of product in turn saving money and production downtime.
Why choose the Triplett EPC600?
Well, many particle counters offer particle size and data only. The EPC600 goes the extra mile and gives you 6 channels, included Temp and Humidity and wait for it…..built in Video and Image capabilities!!! You can record videos of suspected trouble spots. A must have for anyone in the inspection industry and even if not. If you suspect a problem, run a sample with video and all the readings overlaid on top, and record it and now you have proof to show a customer or even a manager that may need to give approval for new equipment needed. You are actually seeing the unseen contaminants with the particle counter and recording the area of the poor air quality with a visible camera/video to help investigate and diagnose. The EPC600 also comes with a NIST traceable calibration certificate with data!
- Simultaneously measure and display 6 channels of particle sizes down to 0.3µm methane, propane, butane, ammonia, carbon monoxide and many others
- Measure Air Temperature, Humidity, Dew Point and Wet Bulb
- Built-in camera (320 x 240) captures images (JPEG) and video (3GP)
- 2.8” Color TFT display
- Store up to 5000 records with date/time, counts, temperature, humidity, sample volume, alarms, and location label
- Selectable sample time, count data, and programmable delay
- Internal memory plus microSD card slot (SD card not included; uses 8GB max)
- Min/Max/Avg/Dif recording
- 5 languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese)
- USB interface
- Includes 7.4V NiMH rechargeable battery, Universal AC adapter, zero filter, tripod, and USB cable
In conclusion, I hope this article has helped and given you a better understanding of particle counters in general and why they “count”! With the investment in the Triplett EPC600 Environmental Particle Counter you will be able to save time, money and have the confidence you have the best air quality conditions that you can!