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Title: On the validity of the Poisson assumption in sampling nanometer-sized aerosols

A Poisson process is traditionally believed to apply to the sampling of aerosols. For a constant aerosol concentration, it is assumed that a Poisson process describes the fluctuation in the measured concentration because aerosols are stochastically distributed in space. Recent studies, however, have shown that sampling of micrometer-sized aerosols has non-Poissonian behavior with positive correlations. The validity of the Poisson assumption for nanometer-sized aerosols has not been examined and thus was tested in this study. Its validity was tested for four particle sizes - 10 nm, 25 nm, 50 nm and 100 nm - by sampling from indoor air with a DMA- CPC setup to obtain a time series of particle counts. Five metrics were calculated from the data: pair-correlation function (PCF), time-averaged PCF, coefficient of variation, probability of measuring a concentration at least 25% greater than average, and posterior distributions from Bayesian inference. To identify departures from Poissonian behavior, these metrics were also calculated for 1,000 computer-generated Poisson time series with the same mean as the experimental data. For nearly all comparisons, the experimental data fell within the range of 80% of the Poisson-simulation values. Essentially, the metrics for the experimental data were indistinguishable from a simulated Poisson process.more » The greater influence of Brownian motion for nanometer-sized aerosols may explain the Poissonian behavior observed for smaller aerosols. Although the Poisson assumption was found to be valid in this study, it must be carefully applied as the results here do not definitively prove applicability in all sampling situations.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. ORNL
  2. University of Florida, Gainesville
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Aerosol Science & Technology; Journal Volume: 48; Journal Issue: 5
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
ORNL work for others; ORNL LDRD Seed-Money
Country of Publication:
United States
Poisson; sampling; concentration measurement; nanoparticle