Selecting the Right Dust Monitoring Equipment – A Comparison of Dust Monitoring Equipment

Long-time industrial operators know that prolonged exposure to fine dust particles from construction projects that involve digging or earth-moving can cause lung and cardiovascular disease. Operators are required to monitor the concentrations of particulates and airborne pollutants generated by remediation and construction activities at project sites to avoid these dangerous effects on residents and workers.

Operators must set up an air quality monitoring program to monitor the area around construction sites, demolition sites, remediation sites, and hazardous waste areas. The best balance between accuracy, cost and effectiveness is essential when choosing the right dust monitors or dust gauges.

Two basic methods can be used to measure particulate matter: PM 10 PM 2.5 PM PM 1 and PM 10..

1. Gravimetric instruments (also known as reference instruments) use a quantitative measurement based on the mass and volume of the solid.

  • They collect particulates on ventilated filters. To determine the concentration of particulate or pollutant, the filters must be processed in a laboratory.
  • Gravimetric methods are often the most accurate, but they can also be the most costly. They require manual weighing of filters daily or weekly, and laboratory analysis.
  • In many cases, it is impossible to do so.
  • The daily average is calculated from data collected using the gravimetric method for dust monitoring. This is problematic because it does not distinguish high dust generation periods, such as when construction vehicles are moving or high wind.

2. Real time monitors (also known as optical monitors) use light scattering and light absorption principles.

  • This dust monitoring equipment calibrates the particulate concentration by sensing the reflection of light onto a photodetector.
  • Because of their low cost optical sensors, real-time monitors are often more affordable than gravimetric instrument.
  • They can also be bought as an all-inclusive station with data-logging, communication capabilities, and even a power supply.
  • A combination of lower costs and convenience, an all-in one system is more affordable than the cost of sensors. This allows operators to buy multiple instruments to measure different locations at once. This improves data quality and provides a wider picture of what is going on.
  • Real-time gauges also offer real-time data. This monitoring method logs measurements in one-minute intervals or less.
  • This allows the operator to respond quickly if necessary.
  • Real-time dust monitors can also be sturdy and reliable. They can last for long periods without needing to be serviced (sometimes for up to 2 years), which adds to their affordability.
  • However, real-time dust monitor instruments can be more expensive if they need to calibrate against a gravimetric device. Although this is not required in all cases, it can increase upfront costs.


Real-time dust monitoring equipment is the best choice when you want to balance accuracy and affordability. These instruments have data that has been compared to industry-standard reference and gravimetric instruments. The data they collect is indicative of certified instruments that are comparable to them. These instruments provide data at short intervals that allow for quick response to high dust events. They are also relatively affordable to buy and use, and require very little maintenance and calibration.


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