Consistency of urban background black carbon concentration measurements by portable AE51 and reference AE22 aethalometers: effect of corrections for filter loading

Nicola Masey, Eliani Ezani, Jonathan Gillespie, Fiona Sutherland, Chun Lin, Scott Hamilton, Mathew R. Heal, Iain J. Beverland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Monitoring exposure to black carbon with portable devices is an important part of researching the health impacts of combustion-related air pollutants. We collected 786 hourly averaged equivalent black carbon (eBC) measurements from co-located duplicate portable AE51 Aethalometers and a UK Government reference AE22 Aethalometer (the data for the latter were corrected for filter darkening effects using a standard procedure), at an urban background site in Glasgow, UK. The AE51 and the reference concentrations were highly correlated (R 2 ≥ 0.87) for the combined deployment periods. The application of a previously reported method for correcting the AE51’s underestimation of concentrations, associated with filter loading, generally led to an overestimation of values (specifically, the normalised mean bias values for the two AE51s increased from –2% and +3% to +14% and +25% across the full range of measurements after correction). We found only limited and inconsistent evidence that the AE51 Aethalometers (attenuation [AE51_ATN] ≤ ~52) underestimated the eBC concentrations compared to the reference measurements. Thus, our observations indicate that the AE51 can achieve close agreement with the reference AE22 monitor without applying corrections for filter loading at relatively low AE51_ATN values in environments with low eBC concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020


  • air pollution
  • equivalent black carbon
  • aethalometer
  • micro-aethalometer
  • attenuation
  • filter loading

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