Evaluation of the measurement uncertainty in automated long-term sampling of PCDD/PCDFs

M. Vicaretti, G. D'Emilia, S. Mosca, E. Guerriero, M. Rotatori

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Since the publication of the first version of European standard EN-1948 in 1996, long-term sampling equipment has been improved to a high standard for the sampling and analysis of polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (PCDD)/polychlorodibenzofuran (PCDF) emissions from industrial sources. The current automated PCDD/PCDF sampling systems enable to extend the measurement time from 6-8 h to 15-30 days in order to have data values better representative of the real pollutant emission of the plant in the long period. EN-1948:2006 is still the European technical reference standard for the determination of PCDD/PCDF from stationary source emissions. In this paper, a methodology to estimate the measurement uncertainty of long-term automated sampling is presented. The methodology has been tested on a set of high concentration sampling data resulting from a specific experience; it is proposed with the intent that it is to be applied on further similar studies and generalized. A comparison between short-term sampling data resulting from manual and automated parallel measurements has been considered also in order to verify the feasibility and usefulness of automated systems and to establish correlations between results of the two methods to use a manual method for calibration of automatic long-term one. The uncertainty components of the manual method are analyzed, following the requirements of EN-1948-3:2006, allowing to have a preliminary evaluation of the corresponding uncertainty components of the automated system. Then, a comparison between experimental data coming from parallel sampling campaigns carried out in short- and long-term sampling periods is realized. Long-term sampling is more reliable to monitor PCDD/PCDF emissions than occasional short-term sampling. Automated sampling systems can assure very useful emission data both in short and long sampling periods. Despite this, due to the different application of the long-term sampling systems, the automated results could not be directly compared with manual results, not even in terms of measurement uncertainty. This investigation focuses on both uncertainty and repeatability of the automated sampling method. The standard 20988, developed by Internarional Organization of Standardization (ISO) can be used to estimate the measurement uncertainty. The results confirm that the uncertainties of manual and automated methods are comparable. At the same time, it is not appropriate to consider the manual method as a reference for the evaluation of the uncertainty of the automated sampling system, due to the high variability of both systems. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8535 - 8545
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution

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