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Air Sampling

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This page collects resources, questions, requests related to air sampling, edit the page to add information or resources.


Air grab sampling is a way to capture air samples for laboratory testing. Most air grab sampling methods involve capturing air pulled into a bag through a vacuum system. The bag can then be sealed and shipped to a lab for testing. Air grab samples can be tested for over 100 different chemicals (Louisiana Bucket Brigade).

Particle sensing

Air sampling for particulate matter or dust pollution is another type of air sampling. See information on particle sensing on this page.



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Bucket Sampling

"The Bucket is a patented device for capturing a sample of air for laboratory analysis in three minutes" from Blue Ridge Environmental Defence League. The Bucket is an EPA approved grab sampling method for measuring air pollution and is significantly less expensive than the other air grab systems such as the summa canister (The Louisiana Bucket Brigade).

What it tests: The Bucket can measure up to 101 air pollutants including: dichloromethane, hydrogen sulfide, perchloroethylene, vinyl chloride, toluene, and benzene. Written instructions and information on how to use the bucket can be found here from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Cost: The bucket itself cost around $100 each but they are reuseable. The lab sampling costs between $200-$500 each depending on what you want to get tested. The system also needs to be calibrated twice a year which can cost up to $400.

Video on how to use the bucket from Hilton Kelley of Community In Power and Development Association

Story of West Virginia Chemical Valley Bucket Brigade:

More resources and groups who have experience with the Bucket:

Other types of canisters for sampling

The Summa Canister

The Summa Canister is a commercially available sampling system. It can take grab samples intermittently, or over a period of time. The Summa Canisters are described in EPA Method TO-15, and are commonly used for the collection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ambient and indoor air.

Community use case: The Citizens for a Healthy Community in Paonia, Colorado have used the summa canister for air grab sampling. Here is a publication they put together on “How Oil & Gas Impacted Communities Can Test Air Quality On A Small Budget: A step-by-step guidebook based on the North Fork Valley Air Sampling Program” 2016

Helium Diffusion Sampler

Helium diffusion samplers are wearable devices that take samples to measure (VOCs) in ambient and indoor air.

Community use case: In 2016, community members in Pavillon, Wyoming participated in a health and air sampling study. They had noticed an increase in health issues locally and were concerned about the pollution coming from the many nearby gas wells. In their exploration of VOCs, they used a FLIR gas camera, Minirea 3000 air monitoring device, an ambient air model, Aldehyde Badges, Summa Canisters and two wearable monitors: HDS (Helium Diffusion Sampler), and Sorbent Tubes. More information on their study, the results and about their community can be found in the "When the Wind Blows" publication by Elizabeth Crowe, Sharyle Patton, Deborah Thomas, and Beverley Thorpe. More information on this study and the groups involved can be found on the Coming Clean webpage here at

More resources on canister sampling: