Contact: Lee Portnoff
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The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent radioactive disaster underscores the need for high-resolution aerosol monitoring

Many people are concerned and need to know whether the toxic clouds emitted by explosions at the Tohoku nuclear power plant are exposing them to harmful radioactivity. This depends on prevailing winds, precipitation and - most important - particle size. Small particles are light enough to be carried considerable distances from the disaster site.

A typical radiation monitor detects the presence of radioactivity. However, it does not separate particles by size and therefore cannot provide accurate information on the transport of harmful radioactive material. Newer aerosol samplers that separate by size provide aerosol researchers the critical information needed to explain the pattern of radioactive fallout.

DRUM impactors, initially custom-built for major research institutions and the U.S. armed services, continuously sample airborne particulates and segregate them by size and time of collection. Size indicates particle morphology and flow. Time is necessary to backtrack the source of emission and to identify patterns. Size and time resolved aerosol sampling is an extraordinarily powerful tool. For example, DRUM samples taken in California contain trace elements originating from dust storms in Asia.

Researchers use DRUM impactors to assess air quality all over the world: on every continent, within the upper atmosphere and in submarines. The Naval Research Laboratory deployed DRUM impactors during the first Gulf War to monitor burning oil wells. The U.S. armed services continue their use for national security purposes. DRUM impactors protect human health and have been instrumental in saving lives and exposing the 9/11 disaster cover-up.

After a decade of research and development, DRUMAirâ„¢ offers a new line of precision aerosol samplers. DRUMAir's new generation of modular DRUM impactors come in two standard sizing schemes, and can be customized to accommodate requested size configurations. Once collected, samples may be analyzed using a variety of non-destructive techniques including x-ray fluorescence, proton elastic scattering, scanning electron microscope, optical absorption and mass attenuation. Upgrading to high-resolution aerosol samplers and state-of-the-art analytical techniques will provide greater safety and increased capacity for disaster response.

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