Cyclone sampling devices have been helpful in assessing the toxic effects of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The particle collection efficiency of sampling devices is critical. This study investigated the effect of cyclone size on particle size, chemical composition, and particle toxicity. Three cyclones with different inner diameters (12-68 mm) were tested for penetration using an aerodynamic particle sizer, fluorescent polystyrene latex, and a differential mobility analyzer. The elemental and water-soluble ion compositions of the particles collected by different cyclones were compared. An evaluation of the particles’ toxicity was conducted by comparing the results of dithiothreitol (DTT), limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), and cell exposure assays. The experimental evaluation showed a 50% cut-size of the cyclones between 0.17-0.28, 0.34-0.36, and 0.70 μm for the small, medium, and large cyclones, respectively. To collect PM2.5 and evaluate separation performance in the real environment, the small and large cyclones were selected according to the particle penetration and flow rate. A comparison of chemical composition and enrichment factor values found that the particles in the small cyclone samples contained smaller and more anthropogenic sources than those in the large cyclone samples. The oxidative potential (OP) measured by the DTT assay of the samples collected using the small and large cyclones differed across sampling periods and associated with the transition metals. The viability of human epithelial A549 cells after exposure to the collected particles using the cyclones was different across sampling periods and associated with OP. The endotoxin concentrations measured in the LAL assay were found only in the large cyclone samples; they affected the estimated level of cytokine based on IL(interleukin)-6 release from human leukemia monocytic (THP-1) cells derived macrophage like cells. Regardless of the size, the cyclone techniques used in this study to collect aerosol particles would be a powerful tool for a detailed evaluation of particle toxicity.
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