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Air Sampling via Canisters: Planning for Success

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What you should know before your next air canister sampling event

There are three main components to any successful air sampling project, project planning, effective media, and high quality usable data. Today we will focus on the first two components, project planning and media.


Passivated canisters are still considered to be the “gold standard” for whole air sampling efforts. They can provide excellent data for both time-integrated (up to 72 hours) and grab sampling (<5 minutes) for point source evaluations.

A passivated canister whole air sample can be utilized for many matrices including:

  • Ambient air
  • Indoor air
  • Soil gas
  • Point source evaluations
  • Fenceline monitoring
  • Event triggered whole air samples

The most common analytical methods utilized for passivated canister whole air sampling are:

  • TO-3
  • TO-12
  • TO-14A/TO-15
  • ASTM D1945/1946
  • ASTM D5466

What should you expect from your air laboratory?

First off, no laboratory is perfect, but you should ask for performance measurements for comparison. Can you current laboratory routinely provide the below metrics?

  • OTD % – >98%
  • TAT (days) – 5 business days
  • Media Failure Rate – <1%
  • Workflow/Capacity – >50,000 samples collected and analyzed annually

Do they have experienced staff who can “walk you through” the most challenging sampling protocols? Eurofins Air Toxics, LLC (EATL) can work with you to develop a creative (if necessary) sampling solution for your environmental (or other) vapor phase sampling effort.

Does your current laboratory have systems in place to “learn from mistakes” and correct problems? Eurofins Air Toxics’ highly trained staff has over 300 years of combined air testing experience allowing us to address concerns and to improve our products and service to the client.

Take a look at the big picture when evaluating your current laboratory.

Have you encountered delays in sampling schedules causing project start and access problems? EATL has over 4,000 canisters, the largest media inventory of any single air lab in the United States, allowing us to work with your schedule for the most efficient approach.

Do other labs have a “toss it over the fence” attitude for data evaluation? Our data is reviewed by our highly trained staff as well as a sophisticated proprietary software package LUMEN, which evaluates the project pass/fail criteria and overall completeness.

Have you encountered project cost overruns due to resampling efforts? EATL had zero resampling efforts in 2017 due to laboratory error.

Not all projects are created equal.

Are all data quality objectives being met? If all projects were alike, then a single analytical application would be fine. When a laboratory encounters samples with a wide range of concentration (pptv to % level VOCs), often a decision has to be made to protect the instrumentation. The result of this decision may negatively impacts the DQOs for your project. Eurofins Air Toxics has five separate TO-15 analytical approaches to meet a variety of sample matrices, screening level (reporting limit) requirements, and target compound lists.

Do you have complex or high level sample matrices preventing you from meeting the screening levels for key risk driver compounds? We have a solution for that, the TO-15 HSS (High Sensitivity/Selectivity) developed by EATL has the ability to provided pptv level reporting limits for samples where percent level interference is a problem.

As we’ve shown above, Eurofins Air Toxics stands apart from other laboratories that might not cover all of the vital elements of an analytical project. As the Eurofins Environment Testing Center of Excellence for air testing, why choose to work with anyone else?