Exposure to airborne agents needs to be assessed in the personal breathing zone by the use of personal measurement equipment.
Specific measurement devices for assessing personal exposure to airborne nanomaterials have only become available in the recent years. They can be differentiated into direct-reading personal monitors and personal samplers that collect the airborne nanomaterials for subsequent analyses.
This article presents a review of the available personal monitors and samplers and summarizes the available literature regarding their accuracy, comparability and field applicability. Due to the novelty of the instruments, the number of published studies is still relatively low. Where applicable, literature data, therefore, is complemented with published and unpublished results from the recently finished nanoIndEx project.
The presented data show that the samplers and monitors are robust and ready for field use with sufficient accuracy and comparability. However, several limitations apply (e.g., regarding the particle size range of the personal monitors and their in general lower accuracy and comparability compared with their stationary counterparts).
The decision whether a personal monitor or a personal sampler shall be preferred depends strongly on the question to tackle. In many cases, a combination of a personal monitor and a personal sampler may be the best choice to obtain conclusive results.