Fabric Masks as a Personal Dosimeter for Quantifying Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Wan Chan, Long Jin, Zhihan Sun, Stephen M. Griffith, Jian Zhen Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In this study, we assessed the feasibility of using ordinary face masks as a sampling means to collect airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Nonwoven fabric masks can trap three-ring or larger PAHs at a high efficiency (>70%) and naphthalene at μ17%. The sampling method is quantitative as confirmed by comparison with the standard method of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In conjunction with sensitive fluorescence detection, the method was applied to quantify nine airborne PAHs in a range of indoor and outdoor environments. Wearing the mask for 2 h allowed quantification of individual PAHs as low as 0.07 ng/m3. The demonstration shows applicability of the method in monitoring PAHs down to μ30-80 ng/m3 in university office and laboratory settings and up to μ900 ng/m3 in an incense-burning temple. Compared with traditional filter-/sorbent tube-based approaches, which require a sampling pump, our new method is simple, convenient, and inexpensive. More importantly, it closely tracks human exposure down to the individual level, thus having great potential to facilitate routine occupational exposure monitoring and large-scale surveillance of PAH concentrations in indoor and outdoor environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5128-5135
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2021


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