Huge demand for PManything Monitor

Palas, the German manufacturer of particulate monitoring instruments, is expanding production to cope with demand for its fine particulate monitor, the Fidas® 200, which is distributed in the UK by Air Monitors. In the following article Jim Mills explains why Air Monitors being kept busy due to the demand for this exciting new technology

PM monitoring – the ultimate goal

We monitor PM because of its acute health effects. It irritates our eyes and lungs, and some of the finer particles were more recently shown to be able to move directly from the nasal cavity to the brain. Monitoring is therefore essential, but there are almost as many monitoring methods as there are types of PM, so it is vitally important to monitor what matters. If you are measuring dust from a construction site, the PM is relatively large in diameter and heavy, but if you are monitoring PM from diesel emissions in a city, the smallest particles with much less mass but much greater in numbers are of greatest interest. Monitoring a single size fraction provides an incomplete picture of particulate contamination and risks ignoring the PM of most interest, particularly if the ignored fractions are the finer particles that travel deepest into the lungs. The ideal PM monitor would therefore reliably and accurately monitor all important PM fractions, with high data capture rates and low service requirements… hence the heavy demand for the Fidas 200.

Fidas 200

The Fidas® 200 is a fine dust ambient air quality monitoring device, developed specifically for regulatory purposes; providing continuous and simultaneous measurement of PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10, TSP (PMtot), as well as particle number concentration and particle size distribution between 180nm and 18µm (further non-certified size ranges are also available on request).
Employing a well-established measurement technology – optical light scattering of single particles – the Fidas 200 is equipped with a high intensity LED light source, which is extremely stable, delivering a long lifetime, with minimal service requirements. An optical aerosol spectrometer determines the particle size using Lorenz‐Mie scattered light analysis of single particles. These particles move through an optical measurement volume that is homogeneously illuminated with white light, and each particle generates a scattered light impulse that is detected at an angle of 85° to 95° degrees. The particle number measurement is based on the number of scattered light impulses, and the level of the scattered light impulse is a measure of the particle diameter.
The Fidas 200 operates with a volume flow of approx. 0.3m3/h and is equipped with a Sigma‐2 sampling head, which enables representative measurements even under strong wind conditions. The sampling system includes a drying system that prevents measurement inaccuracies caused by condensation from high humidity, which means that it will continue to function correctly in misty or foggy conditions but without the loss of semi-volatile fractions of the PM . It is also equipped with a filter holder for the insertion of a plane filter (47 or 50 mm in diameter) which enables subsequent chemical analysis of the aerosol.Different versions of the Fidas 200 allow for stand-alone outdoors installation or for installation inside a measurement cabinet or air quality monitoring station.


The Fidas 200 is the only ambient continuous PM monitor in the UK to have passed TÜV and MCERTS. The MCERTS certificate (Sira MC16290/01) confirms that the Fidas 200 complies with the MCERTS Performance Standards for Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Systems, and with MCERTS for UK Particulate Matter. The instrument has type-approval to the Standards EN 12341 (PM10), EN 14907 (PM2.5) and is certified to the Standards EN 15267-1 and -2.
Importantly, the FIDAS 200 has half the uncertainty of many of its rivals and one third of the required uncertainty (25%).
Typical data capture rates exceed 99%. This has been achieved by a design approach that is focused on reliability. For example, two pumps operate in parallel, providing redundancy protection, and the instrument continuously monitors status and calibration.
Monitoring frequency has an adjustable time resolution ranging from 1 second up to 24 hours. However, high frequency data provides almost real-time access to readings when deployed with a remote web-enabled Envirologger. This enables the detection of short-term spikes, providing much greater insight into the causes of PM pollution.
The Fidas instruments have been proven both overseas and in the UK; Air Monitors has been supplying Fidas PM monitors for around three years and there are now over 30 monitors in operation in the UK.


One of the major financial considerations for Fidas 200 is its extremely low operating cost; the requirement for consumables is almost nil (no filter required) and its power consumption is around one fifth of its nearest rival. Calibration can be checked and adjusted, if necessary, quickly and easily in the field with a simple monodisperse test powder test.
The purchase cost of a single Fidas 200 is a little more than some ambient PM monitors, but it is less expensive than others. However, for most instruments, a requirement to monitor two fractions, say PM2.5 and PM10, would necessitate two instruments and therefore double the cost. With budgets under pressure, Fidas therefore provides an opportunity to obtain better data for less cost.
In summary, the Fidas 200 offers better performance than all of its rivals; usually at significantly lower capital cost and always with dramatically lower operational costs. Consequently, it is no surprise that these instruments are selling like hot cakes.

AQMesh now monitors particles as well as gases

Particulate monitoring technology has been added to the AQMesh air quality monitoring pods. “This is a major development,” says Stephen Hoskin from the Tewkesbury based company Air Monitors. “AQMesh already monitors the most important gases, but fine particulates are one of the pollutants of greatest concern – government figures suggest almost 40,000 people die prematurely in the UK every year from particle pollution.”

AQMesh pods already monitor NO, NO2, O3, SO2 and CO, they also measure temperature, humidity and atmospheric pressure and compensate for changes in these environmental parameters leading to more accurate and reliable measurements. AQMesh pods also compensate for cross-gas interferences which are common when using electrochemical sensors. Without these compensations the quality of data from the sensors alone would be significantly compromised.

AQMesh pods transmit their data to cloud servers which apply all of these corrections in real time and relay the data via a web browser application, developed by Air Monitors to the end user. Data can also be provided via an API direct for use by end users own software systems. The application allows adjustments to offset and slope allowing the user to “calibrate” the pods in relation to a reference station.

The Fidas Frog – Fine Dust Monitoring System

Breaking new ground with Fidas Frog. This fine dust aerosol spectrometer is small, light and precise. The battery life is sufficient for a whole working day – for example for measuring the fine dust load at an office workstation, in the workshop or in the lab. Operation via the wireless touch panel is intuitive and easy.

  • Battery life of 8 hours
  • Simultaneous measurement of PM1, PM2.5, PM4. PM10,Pn and particle size distributions.

The Fidas Frog is smaller than a shoe box and uses WLAN to communicate with its operator via the operating panel. The wireless operating panel allows users to perform measurements at a distance from the particle source. Thanks to the impressive battery life of 8 hours, you can take the measurements throughout an entire working day – with a time resolution of seconds.

Simple to evaluate

The Fidas Frog user interface can be used to display all measurement series and compare them with each another. Fast print outs of reports are effortlessly possible. With the optional integrated camera, images of the measurement set-up can be conveniently assigned to the data record and the measurement report. A warning message is output if individual limits or legal thresholds are exceeded.

Coriolis with Ice?

Professor Jim McQuaid and his colleagues at the University of Leeds used one of our Coriolis air samplers to capture microbes from the snow and ice of the Greenland ice sheet. 

One of the main tasks of WP2 team “Particulates” during the 2016 Black and Bloom field season was to collect all possible types of aerosols and surface samples so that we can compare the potential delivery of particles to the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet with particulates (weather inorganic or living)  observed on the surface of the snow and ice. Our aim with the air sampling was to inventory and analyze all airborne ‘impurities’ deposited during the melt season regardless if such aerosols  contain black carbon, dust particles, salt particles, organic particles and naturally also microbes. Thus for the air sampling we used a variety of ‘air collectors’ to obtain various low or high volume integrated air samples on filters or in liquid media; we naturally complemented these with in situ, continuous and time resolved  measurements of black carbon, ozone and particle numbers (see also Jim’s blog a while back).  One sampling method that we used and that gives the microbes something to think about is a Coriolis high volume (300l/min) biological air collector in which air is collected via a cyclonic impactor at high speeds.

We used this intensively both for airborne biological sample collections (i.e., diversity, functions via ‘omics’ approaches) as well as for total airborne particulate analyses (i.e., high-resolution micro-spectroscopy) .Analyzing these two types of collected samples will, together with all other in situ and real time analyses, allow us to quantify the nature, compositions, and speciation as well as microbial diversity and function of all airborne ‘impurities’. Linking this with all ‘impurity’ analyses that we do on the samples collected from the snow and ice surfaces will allow us nicely to link our results with the WP1 pigment and microbial activity etc analyses and WP3 reflectivity measurements over the melt season.

Thus as you see we made sure that even our smallest members of the team – those traveling by air – regardless if they are microbes or not – get a ride of their life even once we captured them.

With thanks to Prof. Jim McQuaid and Liane Benning and the rest of the Black and Bloom Team

Gas Alarm System protects Waste Management Staff

The human nose is particularly sensitive to Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S); a highly offensive odorous gas, reminiscent of rotten eggs. With an odour threshold between 0.005 ppm and 1.5ppm, relatively low levels of Hydrogen Sulphide can result in complaints if industrial plants generate exposure at these levels. A chemical waste treatment plant in the UK has therefore installed a monitoring and alarm system to generate alerts when H2S concentrations reach levels that might cause concern with staff and the Public.

The SPM flex can also be converted to measure many other odours and gases by simply changing the chemical cassette which takes only minutes to complete. The system can be provided as a portable of fixed installation outdoors or indoors and is compatible with the web logger allowing data to be streamed to your PC, tablet or smartphone in real time.