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Gravimetric Air Sampling

Air Sampler Head

Air quality assessments help to quantitatively evaluate the fraction of harmful material in the air. In many industries, this may be a legal requirement to ensure standards are being met or to determine the effectiveness of control strategies.That’s why Air Quality Sensors / Air Quality Monitors are used

Protect the environment

Employers must take all steps possible to protect workers from exposure to health-harming substances. Any breach of safety regulations can have a major impact on labour effectiveness and places the employer at risk of grave legal consequences. Most government agencies have established ceiling values and guidance limits for a range of harmful gases, vapours, radionuclides and dusts. In the UK, a list of Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) and occupational standards is downloadable for free on the HSE website (E40/2005). This document is legally binding; non-compliance will result in major penalties.

Gravimetric air sampling is thought to be the most accurate method of determining particulate mass concentration, as they are capable of sampling at the very lowest detection limits. A sample is taken by drawing a measured volume of air through a collection substrate, which is then sent for further analysis. When sampling gravimetrically, the airborne concentration of a particular substance is calculated by assessing the analytical result and the volume of air sampled.

Types of Gravimetric Air Sampler

The type of air sampler used depends on the size of the area and the duration of the sample. Fixed-point samplers (also known as area samplers) have high flow rates, meaning large volumes of air can be sampled in a short space of time. These are useful for pinpointing the source of contamination and for assessing the effectiveness of control measures.

To monitor personal exposure, a smaller, wearable sampler may be used. These are attached to the operator, and a sample is taken during normal working activity. The sampling head is located in the worker’s breathing zone in order to measure how much particulate matter is inhaled.

For both types of sampling, different filter paper can be used depending on the test parameters.

Although real-time monitors can be extremely useful for initial assessments, they may not be sensitive enough to detect background levels when the concentration of a pollutant is very low.

Munro Instruments specialises in the manufacture of high-quality environmental monitoring equipment. Our comprehensive range of air samplers cater for all environmental and health-and-safety requirements and can be found in nuclear, construction, transport and agricultural facilities around the world.

Gravimetric Air Sampling

Contact us or visit our product pages for more information.

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Tile Safety-10 Reasons Why Slip Resistance Matters

tiled floor

10 Reasons Why Slip Resistance Matters


1. Safety First

Slips are an extremely common cause of injury and result in thousands of hospital admissions each year. Tiles that are wet, contaminated or poorly designed will increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

2. Be Compliant 

There are various standards and guidelines which describe how to measure slip resistance and what the minimum performance requirements should be in certain situations and environments. Ensure that your products meet industry regulations.

3. Defensibility

If an accident occurs and your product is found to be unsafe, defective or poorly specified, you may be liable. Insurance claims and legal proceedings can be costly and damaging to your reputation. Don’t wait for an accident to take place. With a few simple steps, you can protect yourself from fines and unforeseen losses.

4. Know Your Product

Quality control involves knowing your products’ specifications and regularly re- evaluating their performance. A slip rating can be attributed to every floor tile. If they are provided externally by suppliers, it is your responsibility to ensure they are accurate and there is no deterioration in quality across batches.

5. Tile Performance

Footfall, cleaning chemicals and exposure to the elements are just some of the factors that can negatively affect slip resistance. A tile’s performance should be assessed at the design and manufacture stage, after transportation and warehousing, post installation and at regular intervals thereafter.

6. Boost Confidence

Customers are becoming increasingly ‘slip savvy’. Offer better product recommendations based on accurate slip ratings. Architects, building owners and facilities managers will often request this information specifically. Not only does this provide reassurance, it also demonstrates your competence as a business.

7. Focus on Improvement

Your tiles should be functional and not just beautiful. Slip resistance is an important consideration in the development of new products. Improve your existing range and measure the effect of surface treatments and cleaning products.

8. The Preferred Method

The Pendulum Tester is the preferred method of testing slip resistance according to the Health & Safety Executive and the UK Slip Resistance Group. It is simple to use, and the results are reliable and easy to interpret.

9. Do it Yourself

With the correct training the Pendulum Tester can be successfully operated by anyone. Your machine can be certified by an independent accredited body, giving you the peace of mind that your results are reliable and robust. This dispenses with the need for expensive third-party testing.

10. Be an Industry Leader

Don’t let standards slip! 😉

Tile Safety-10 Reasons Why Slip Resistance Matters

For more information or advice on slip resistance and tile safety, contact us

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Whose pollution anyway?

Santiago smog

The weather impacts air quality. It comes as no surprise, then, that many of the world’s most polluted cities are awkwardly situated from climatic perspective. In Santiago, Chile, where air pollution regularly exceeds critical levels, scanty rain and low wind speeds prevent atmospheric mixing from taking place, causing a build-up of smog. The city’s striking mountainous backdrop serves only to exacerbate the situation.

Wintertime in pollution-prone cities can be particularly problematic. When nights are long and the sun much lower in the sky, ground temperature often falls below that of the atmosphere, making vertical air movement (convection) more difficult. Temperature inversions of this nature create warm, impenetrable layers of air that trap pollutants at ground level. This is a common occurrence in Delhi and Beijing, two heavily contaminated cities.

the effect of weather on air pollution

Keeping in mind the effect of weather on air pollution, we find that there is another issue at stake – one of transnational political significance. The wind may help disperse contaminants, but it also carries domestic emissions across international borders. Although no modern nation is entirely blameless, China, with its reliance on dirty fuels and heavy industry, is a serial offender. Japan and South Korea have long borne the brunt of China’s accidental airborne attacks. It is even thought that some air quality violations in the US are directly attributable to emissions originating in Asia [1]. A similar state of affairs exists between the US and Canada. But despite sharing each other’s emissions, an Air Quality Agreement (established in 1991) is in place to tackle transboundary air issues. Bilateral agreements such as this are vital for effective management of cross-border pollution. Although responsibility resides with the producer, collaborative initiatives are needed to prevent hostility.

Air Quality Monitoring Strategies

Despite being a largely anthropogenic phenomenon, bad air is influenced by a number of factors outside of human control. Regardless, cross-border pollution produces a negative externality and may be viewed as a violation on the part of the producer. The observation of meteorological parameters, such as wind speed and direction, relative humidity and temperature, should be integrated into air quality monitoring strategies, as this will give us a better chance at understanding it.

Whose pollution anyway?

[1] ‘China Exports Pollution to the U.S., Study Finds’, New York Times (20 January 2014)

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Weather Preparedness

The naming of winter storms, introduced in 2015 as a communication aid, reminds us that the UK is by no means immune to the vagaries of the weather. The Met Office estimates that around £300 million is spent on repairing wind damage each year; in the case of flooding, that number is closer to a billion (source: Guardian).

Weather preparedness is more important than ever

Weather preparedness is more important than ever. We are in the fortunate position of being able to forecast the weather relatively accurately, so why does it keep catching us out? Damaged infrastructure, route impassability, transport delays and hub closures have a major impact on the economy, not to mention public safety. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the country’s ubiquitous flood plains. With plans to increase spending on flood defences, the government is certainly taking steps in the right direction, but there is still great deal more to be done.

warning systems in problem areas

A total solution to the country’s meteorological woes is unlikely. Choppy seas, turbulent skies and sub-zero temperatures will continue to wreak havoc on the nation’s transport systems, kill off livestock and hamper productivity in business and construction. But that is certainly no excuse for inaction. The weather cannot be controlled, but proper preparation and careful management can help mitigate its effects. One solution is to install early warning systems in problem areas. On roads and bridges, weather sensors can be synchronized with variable-message (matrix) signs to warn vulnerable motorists of high crosswinds and slippery surfaces. In agriculture, farmers can be sent SMS notifications from strategically-positioned sensors advising them when to relocate livestock. And in construction a similar set-up can be used to forewarn contractors of unfavourable conditions, preventing them from coming to work unnecessarily and helping to save costs (and lives).

The effect of the weather is felt by all, and it is certainly not enough to rely on forecasted data. Weather monitoring can be used to extremely good effect. Careful analysis of data (both past and present) aids decision-making and can be used by individuals and businesses to overcome dangerous situations and ensure maximum safety and efficiency.

Weather Preparedness

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Low Emission Zones

Heavy Traffic

Poor air quality is known to be the most significant environmental cause of premature death in the EU. This disturbing fact also extends to many other countries around the world. Initiatives to combat this issue are therefore a priority for many governments. The implementation of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is one such initiative. LEZs aim to improve air quality by encouraging the adoption of cleaner vehicles.

Over the last decade there has been an explosion in the number of LEZs within the EU. This has mainly been in response to the EU Clean Air Directive (2005).  This sets maximum allowable limits on certain pollutants within specified spatial zones. If violated, local governments are required to produce a Clean Air Action Plan, which must consist of a number of pollution-reducing measures.  The most radical of these measures is the LEZ. In Europe alone, almost 200 LEZs have been, or are being, introduced.  The finer details of each scheme vary, but most deter polluting vehicles by levying a charge on vehicles that do not comply with certain green standards.

LEZs are of vital importance in controlling the devastating human, health and environmental cost of poor air quality. Of particular concern are particulate pollutants (PM10 and PM2.5). The number of EU deaths attributable to PM10 is 348,000 annually. The LEZs address this pressing issue by reducing emissions of particulate matter in densely populated areas.

Key Examples of Low Emission Zones


Germany has been particularly active with the introduction of LEZs to 47 cities. Every vehicle in the country is now required to display a coloured windscreen sticker indicating its pollution (PM10) class.  Depending upon the colour of the sticker, a vehicle may be banned from driving into an LEZ unless a charge has been paid.

United Kingdom

Introduced in 2008, London is home to the largest LEZ in the world. Covering most of Greater London, non-compliant vehicles are required to pay a daily charge of £100-200 to enter the zone.  The scheme mainly targets commercial vehicles such as lorries, vans and coaches and therefore affects businesses most.

The Mayor of London has recently confirmed plans to enhance London’s air quality measures with the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). This will require every vehicle entering central London to comply with given emissions standards. Non-compliant vehicles will be expected to pay a charge.

The Future of Low Emission Zones

Air quality continues to challenge governments around the world. LEZs are an effective way of combatting the problem, and we expect them to become increasingly commonplace.


European Commission Air Quality Website:
Watkiss, Pye & Holland (2005) ‘CAFE CBA: baseline analysis 2000-2020’ Report to the European Commission DG Environment, Brussels
Wolff (2013): ‘Keep Your Clunker in the Suburb: Low Emission Zones and the Adoption of Green Vehicles’, The Economic Journal 124 (August)

Low Emission Zones

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Energy Security

Energy Security

No longer are renewables the sole preserve of the environmentally minded. Technological advances have improved efficiency and reduced costs, helping to restore faith in the clean energy market. For many, investment in this sector has proved extremely profitable. Countries and corporations are seeking new ways to innovate and rationalize without having to mine, frack or burn.

From Nepal to Spain, Denmark to Peru, renewables are helping enliven economies, increase productivity and save lives. Even China, the world’s naughtiest polluter, has recognised their potential, having pumped US$56 billion into wind and solar projects in 2013 – more than all of Europe combined (source: The Economist). Whilst not to undermine their green agenda, business-savvy China is well aware that continued reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable. Environmental degradation is poisoning the economy as well as its people, making China less attractive to prospective investors. Added to that is the constant fluctuation of fossil fuel prices. It would seem the modern affinity with renewables is related, at least in part, to the search for greater energy security. As the world’s population grows, so too does the demand for electricity. It is high time we explored some of the world’s other great energy sources.

But there is another problem: the world is not yet equipped to deal with such high demand. Billions of people, mostly in remote, rural locations (Sub-Saharan Africa being a prime example), are still without an adequate supply of electricity. Grid power is often inaccessible or simply too expensive. The implications? Work and study are limited to daylight hours (reducing productivity); crimes are easier to commit; food hygiene is a constant challenge because of inadequate (or non-existent) refrigeration; and hospitals are severely limited in scope. Rural poverty often precludes the possibility of electrification, which affects quality of life and, in turn, results in a whole lot of untapped human potential.

Schemes to ‘electrify’ rural areas are by no means a new phenomenon. Major progress has already been made using off-grid photovoltaic and wind systems. Once prohibitively expensive, microgeneration technologies are becoming more accessible, helping to empower (literally) individuals and communities worldwide. Night-time light makes for a safer, more pleasant and productive atmosphere; air quality improves because of reduced reliance on paraffin (kerosene); food can be refrigerated; businesses set up; and difficult agricultural processes mechanized. Where grid power is not a possibility, microgeneration using renewables is a genuine, sustainable solution.

And even where advanced grid networks do exist, basic microgeneration technology enables households and businesses to supplement their existing supply, reducing costs and creating a stronger, more reliable and efficient source of electricity.

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Corporate Citizenship


Good businesses ensure that workers are happy and healthy – productivity depends on it. Low satisfaction, medical complaints and absenteeism affect employee performance and reduce output. Where legislation exists protecting workers’ health and well-being (as it does in much of the world), it should be viewed not as a minimum legal requirement but as a means to securing the future success and growth of the company. Good corporate citizenship helps businesses to maximize the value of their workforce and make more efficient use of resources.

One parameter that is often overlooked is the impact of air quality on worker experience. Given that most workers’ daily lives are spent in a single location, this is certainly not something that should be ignored. Factories, warehouses, office blocks and shops are all susceptible to airborne nasties – either as a by-product of day-to-day business activity or as a consequence of a building’s infrastructure or location. If neglected, this can have a deleterious effect on the workforce. A meta-analysis by the Guardian newspaper found that poor air quality lowered performance by up to 10% on measures such as typing speed. Ventilated work spaces were found to have 35% fewer instances of sick leave [1].

Fortunately, simple steps can be taken to mitigate the problem. Below are a small selection of tips and suggestions:

  • Every workspace must be well-ventilated to allow the change and circulation of fresh air. If this is not possible, consider installing an air purification system.
  • The temperature and humidity should be closely monitored to prevent the spread bacteria and spores.
  • Floors and surfaces should be kept clean and dust-free. Use only non-toxic cleaning agents.
  • Machinery should be kept clean and up-to-date. This includes printers and photocopiers, as these give off ozone, an odourless gas known to cause headaches, skin irritation and breathing difficulties.
  • Include plants in your workspace. These help absorb VOCs.

Given the size and ubiquity of airborne particles, there is no sure-fire way of controlling what we breathe in. However, regular monitoring will help identify risk zones and enable the implementation of relief measures.

By monitoring  air quality and other related parameters in-house, not only will businesses save money, it will allow them to develop responsibly and create new metrics to measure change and progress.

[1] ‘Office buildings are key to workers’ health, wellbeing and productivity’, Guardian (24 September 2014)

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Embassy Monitoring

global warming

For a little under a week Chai Jing’s Under the Dome eluded censors. The controversial documentary, which explores China’s air pollution crisis, amassed hundreds of millions of views across the country. Speaking directly to a Chinese audience, Chai Jing confronts some uncomfortable truths. She combines shocking imagery, statistical data and the touching story of her own daughter – who was diagnosed with a tumour in utero– to denounce China’s appalling air quality record. Despite praising the video, using it to reaffirm their ‘War on Pollution’, the Chinese government soon banished it from the internet. Chai had successfully reframed the air quality debate from a public health perspective, prompting something of a national awakening. For the Chinese government this brought with it the threat of subversion.

Meanwhile in the UK, #SmogAlert has been dominating Twitter feeds. Last week the country was enveloped in thick, toxic smog, as a cloud of Saharan dust made its way across Europe and mingled with some of our own home-grown emissions. Public health authorities issued warnings urging people to stay indoors, clearly showing, as in Chai Jing’s Under the Dome, that if action is not taken voluntarily, air pollution will change the way we live permanently.

If governments withhold, falsify or manipulate air quality data (as China and the UK have both been accused of doing), citizens’ health and well-being are severely endangered. Providing accurate and timely air quality broadcasts assists the public in making informed and meaningful decisions about where not to go and how best to avoid the health problems associated with air pollution. It also raises awareness and aids mitigation efforts.

A scheme by the US government has succeeded in doing just that. By installing air quality monitors in its embassies and consulates, and making the readings publicly available via Twitter and other means, the US is improving data coverage in underrepresented areas. In turn, this is helping locals make informed lifestyle choices to assuage the threat of air pollution. It also promotes data transparency and creates a pool of analysable data for future modelling.

Although still in its infancy, the scheme has produced some remarkable results. In China, information disparities sparked outrage amongst Chinese environmental officials. The programme was declared illegal, as it contravened official readings; but, even so, it soon prompted the Chinese government to take action. Five years after its inception, 500 PM2.5 stations had been set up in over 70 cities, and billions of dollars were pledged to clean China’s air [1]. The US is piloting similar projects in India and Mongolia.

By promoting the free flow of air quality data, the embassy-monitoring initiative has helped influence policymakers at both local and national levels. Given the enormous data scarcity in much of the world (particularly in Africa), it seems highly appropriate that other countries follow suit to help us overcome this global problem. After all, you cannot control what you do not measure.

[1] ‘How the US Embassy Tweeted to Clear Beijing’s Air’

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Climate Resilience

(rain gauge)-min

Gentle-sounding in name, Tropical Cyclone Pam was certainly not to be underestimated. As is so often the case, the weather’s random acts of terror hit the most vulnerable hardest. In 2015 Vanuatu crumpled under Pam’s weight: crops were uprooted, livestock killed, and buildings flattened. She serves as yet another reminder of how fierce and unpredictable extreme weather events can be.

Global climate changes

As the global climate changes, the frequency and intensity of these events is likely to increase. A report by the World Bank estimates that by 2030 325 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia could be trapped in poverty and at even greater risk of meteorological catastrophes [1].

But however disobedient the climate may be, steps can be taken to mitigate its effects. Increasing climate resilience – a buzzword in development parlance – is paramount in this respect. Climate services must be expanded and awareness raised at both local and national levels. In doing so, countries will be better equipped to deal with such catastrophes, helping to alleviate poverty, reduce costs and encourage more prosperous, sustainable living.

The role of meteorology

More effective dissemination of climate information and services is crucial to improve climate resilience. Meteorology is playing an increasingly important role in policymaking and should be integrated into both national and local infrastructure. Agriculture, water resources, health, aviation and tourism are but a small selection of weather-dependent sectors. Neglecting their meteorological ties is a threat to both human life and economic development.

Overcoming the data scarcity in underdeveloped areas is a formidable but essential task. Weather information – both past and present – allows for the creation of climate models, forecasts and early-warning systems, all of which are vital for improving disaster preparedness. For farmers, climate knowledge promotes more effective use of land and resources, thereby increasing food security. For the economy, it allows weather-dependent sectors to go about their business in a safer, more effective manner and, in many cases, bringing them into line with international standards – a prerequisite for industries such as aviation.


The benefits of developing meteorological services are plenty, but near impossible to implement without sufficient funding. The African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), a joint initiative of the WMO and the African Union Commission, is working at the very highest levels to develop a workable meteorological strategy for Africa. The intention is not only to increase sensor coverage but also to provide adequate training in the use of data. A number of charities are working on similar projects.

In many cases, particularly in remote farming communities where weather information is largely unavailable, there must be a suitable interface in place between providers and users of meteorological data. If it is not received in a timely manner or presented in a language and format that is understandable, its relevance is diminished. Projects should aim to supplement traditional farming methods with scientific data from locally managed monitoring equipment. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), to name one example, is working together with small communities, providing them with basic weather instruments to help improve productivity [2]. Data gleaned from these instruments is then used to create localised forecasts and climate predictions. The Met Office in the UK operates similar schemes elsewhere [3].

Crowdsourcing data in this way is an extremely good method of empowering smallholder farmers and spreading vital meteorological knowledge. It encourages transparency and collaboration, is mutually beneficial, and continues to honour traditional farming techniques whilst combining them with important advances in modern science.

Munro Instruments actively supports and participates in climate resilience improvement projects.

[1] ‘Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk Into Development’, iii.

[2] ‘Traditional Forecasting Meets Science for Climate Risk Management’

Climate Resilience

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Wind Damage


Severe weather is having a devastating effect on ports and harbours around the world. Storm Yohan in Lebanon, to name a recent example, has forced multiple facilities to close. With wind speeds of up to 100 km/h, boats and machinery have been damaged, maritime transport cancelled and fisherman left unable to work. The effect of high wind speed on ports is felt around the world, including in the United Kingdom.

In August last year in the UK, small ports and harbours were given access to a £1.7m government package to help repair weather damage. This is in addition to an earlier £200m fund for weather-affected ports [1].

Two of the key issues in ports and harbours are quay cranes being blown over and ships breaking free from mooring lines. According to the TT Club (a leader in insurance and risk management), around one fifth of port insurance claims are related to high winds knocking over cranes, and 13% to broken mooring lines [2].

These figures illustrate not only how common weather damage to ports is, but also its financial impact – from lost output as well as damage costs. These figures also make for grim reading from a health-and-safety standpoint. Falling cranes and unruly ships are no laughing matter!

Ports and harbours must have procedures in place allowing them to monitor the weather and take preemptive measures. This will minimise the risk of injury and damage. They should aim to document these processes as proof of good practice should any incidents occur. This would satisfy health-and-safety standards and allow them to successfully defend insurance claims.

[1] Cornish Guardian

[2] Hellenic News, ‘When a Foul Wind Blows’