Particulate matter (PM) air pollution has a significant impact on human morbidity and mortality; however, the mechanisms of PM-induced toxicity are poorly defined. A leading hypothesis states that airborne PM induces harm by generating reactive oxygen species in and around human tissues, leading to oxidative stress. We report here a system employing a microfluidic electrochemical sensor coupled directly to a particle-into-liquid sampler (PILS) system to measure aerosol oxidative activity in an on-line format. The oxidative activity measurement is based on the dithiothreitol (DTT) assay, where, after being oxidized by PM, the remaining reduced DTT is analyzed by the microfluidic sensor. The sensor consists of an array of working, reference, and auxiliary electrodes fabricated in a poly(dimethylsiloxane)-based microfluidic device. Cobalt(II) phthalocyanine-modified carbon paste was used as the working electrode material, allowing selective detection of reduced DTT. The electrochemical sensor was validated off-line against the traditional DTT assay using filter samples taken from urban environments and biomass burning events. After off-line characterization, the sensor was coupled to a PILS to enable on-line sampling/analysis of aerosol oxidative activity. Urban dust and industrial incinerator ash samples were aerosolized in an aerosol chamber and analyzed for their oxidative activity. The on-line sensor reported DTT consumption rates (oxidative activity) in good correlation with aerosol concentration (R 2 from 0.86 to 0.97) with a time resolution of approximately 3 min.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry