Workplace atmospheres – Characterization of ultrafine aerosols/nanoaerosols – Use of condensation particle counters for determination of the number density

Project No. IFA 3137


completed 06/2019


Exposure to nanoparticles and ultrafine particles is determined primarily by measurement of the number density in the atmosphere. A condensation particle counter is very often used for this purpose. Recommendations for users were to be compiled in the form of a European standard specifically for this class of equipment. A European standard was drawn up in CEN/TC 137, Assessment of workplace exposure to chemical and biological agents.


In this project, studies supporting the standardization activity were conducted. These took the form of comparisons of devices currently available on the market, and had the purpose of determining their limits of application. Based upon the results, recommendations were formulated for particle sizes, densities and particle compositions capable of being measured by the condensation particle counters. The European standard also contains recommendations for the use of condensation particle counters, the measurement strategy, calibration of the instruments and further information for users on the instruments' use for workplace measurements.


In the pre-normative, experimental study phase, 35 different condensation particle counters obtained from 10 European parties to the project (essentially, institutes for occupational safety and health and research institutes) were tested on a range of aerosols at the IGF's laboratory in Dortmund. The results were considered during evaluation of these instruments' suitability for use for workplace measurements. The description of the measurement methodology in EN 16897, which has since been published, is intended to assist users in the purposeful use of instruments of this kind for determining the number density of ultrafine and nanoparticles in workplace atmospheres.

Last Update:

16 Dec 2019


Financed by:
  • Europäische Kommission – Generaldirektion – Unternehmen und Industrie (ENTR)
  • CEN Brüssel
  • NEN Niederlande
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • IGF - Institut für Gefahrstoff-Forschung, Bochum
  • IUTA - Institut für Energie- und Umwelttechnik, Duisburg
  • BAuA - Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, Berlin
  • ÖSBS - Österreichische Staubbekämpfungsstelle, Leoben, A
  • SUVA Luzern, CH
  • HSL - Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton, UK
  • INRS - Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité, Nancy, F
  • TNO - Nederlandse Organisatie voor toegepast-natuurwetenschappelijk onderzoek, Zeist, NL
  • Stockholm Universität, Schweden
  • CIOP-PIB - Centralny Instytut Ochrony Pracy - Państwowy Instytut Badawczy, Warschau, PL

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


measuring methods

Description, key words:

nanoparticles, ultrafine particles, exposure, number density, condensation particle counter, European standard