Public Lab Research note

Whole Air Sampling

by kgradow1 | May 30, 2020 01:23 30 May 01:23 | #23739 | #23739

Whole air sampling is typically done with canisters or Tedlar bags to take a "snapshot" of an entire air sample and test for chemicals that may be present. Grab sampling is a form of whole air sampling. Whole air samplers test for gases and are often used to sample volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

What is whole air sampling?

  • Whole air samplers measure gas phase chemicals
  • Whole air samplers typically test for 40-100 different chemicals
  • Whole air samples are often used as a diagnostic tool to narrow down what you are looking for

How is whole air sampling different from sorbent tube sampling?

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When would you need a whole air sample?

  • Identifying an unknown smell: You smell something noxious and want to do a test
  • Risk assessment and hazard mitigation: You're concerned there's something bad in the air
  • Narrowing the scope: You're not sure what you're looking for and want to test for a wide range
  • Ambient air monitoring: You want to take a baseline air sample for a given area

References and further reading

Eurofins Guide to Air Sampling: Canisters and Bags (2014). Website. Retrieved from SKC Ltd Step by Step Guide: An Introduction to Air Sampling (2019). Website. Retrieved from Restek Technical Guide: A Guide to Whole Air Canister Sampling (2010). Website. Retrieved from

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Image credit USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency

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