Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR)

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Centre for the study of air quality, with a focus on how aerosol impacts human health and the environment

Area(s) of Expertise

The Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR) is a world-class centre for environmental research, comprised of exceptional people and state-of-the-art facilities. Our research is committed to innovative thinking and high-quality results, to produce a broad, transdisciplinary and actionable understanding of the origins, characteristics, environmental impact, and human health consequences of atmospheric aerosol.

Research Services

Air pollutant field measurement, modelling, data mining, advanced mass spectrometry, elemental analysis 

Sectors of Application
  • Chemical industries
  • Clean technology
  • Energy (renewable and fossil)
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Professional and technical services (including legal services, architecture, engineering)
  • Transportation
  • Utilities

Name of equipment

Description of function

TSI 3091 Fast Mobility Particle Spectrometer (FMPS)

The FMPS is capable of producing real-time particle size distribution measurements with one-second time resolution.

TSI 3090 Engine Exhaust Particle Sizer (EEPS)

The EEPS spectrometer measures the size distribution of engine-exhaust particle emissions in the range from 5.6 to 560 nm at 10 samples per second.

TSI Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS)

The SMPS measures aerosol concentration as a function of particle size, using bipolar charge distribution and differential mobility analysis methods.

TSI 3321 Aerodynamic Particle Spectrometer (APS)

The Aerodynamic Particle Sizer Spectrometer provides high-resolution, real-time measurements of aerosols ranging in size from 0.5 to 20 µm
and simultaneously measures the light-scattering of aerosols, which can be utilized when studying aerosol composition.

Thermo TEOM with 8500 Filter Dynamics Measurement System (TEOM-FDMS)

The Series 8500 Filter Dynamics Measurement System (FDMS) incorporates the 1400 Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) to measure PM2.5 mass concentrations continuously.

Thermo 5030 Synchronized Hybrid Ambient Real-time Particulate Monitor (SHARP)

The Model 5030 Synchronized Hybrid Ambient Real-time Particulate (SHARP) Monitor is a hybrid nephelometric/radiometric PM2.5 mass monitor. The SHARP monitor incorporates a high sensitivity light-scattering photometer.

P-Trak Ultrafine Particle Counter

The P-Trak is a portable instrument used to detect and measure the real-time number concentration (particles/cm3) of ultrafine particles (UFP) with diameters below 0.1 μm. This instrument is equipped with a data logger, and is particularly useful for determining indoor sources of UFP

DustTrak Aerosol Monitor

The DustTrak Aerosol Monitor is a portable instrument used to provide-real time measurements of PM10, PM­¬2.5 or PM1.0. The DustTrak utilizes a battery-operated laser photometer to determine aerosol concentration (mg/m3), which can be stored using the instrument’s data logging option.

Tapered Element Oscillating Microbalance (TEOM) Series 1400a Ambient Particulate Monitor

The TEOM uses a filter-based system to continuously monitor the concentration of particulate matter. An inertial balance correlates changes in the oscillating frequency of the tapered element to aerosol concentration. The instrument is capable of measuring PM10, PM­¬2.5, PM1.0, or Total Suspended Particles (TSP).

TSI 3800 Aerosol Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (ATOFMS)

The ATOFMS measures the size and chemical components within individual aerosol particles ranging in size between 30nm and 10μm in near real-time on a continuous basis.

Sunset thermal-optical semi-continuous OC/EC analyzer

The OC/EC provides a semi-continuous analysis of aerosol organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) concentration with a sampling time ranging from 6 to 12 minutes. The OC/EC preferentially volatilizes OC and EC collected on quartz-fiber filters, oxidizing each species to determine their respective concentrations.

DMT Photoacoustic Soot Spectrometer (PASS)

Photo Acoustic Soot Spectrometer (PASS) measures the optical absorption and scattering coefficient of particles using a photo acoustic technique. The absorption coefficient can be converted to black carbon mass based on the assumption of black carbon mass absorption coefficient.

Aethalometer (AE-21)

This dual-channel Aethalometer is capable of indirectly measuring the concentration of aerosol black carbon (elemental carbon) in near-real-time. The time resolution is user-specified, ranging from one hour to one minute. The instrument relies on the optical absorption of elemental carbon at 880 nm in the infrared range, and 370 nm in the ultraviolet range to determine the associated mass concentration in a sample.

Aerodyne Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM)

Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) measures aerosol mass and chemical composition of non-refractory submicron aerosol particles (i.e. ammonium, nitrate, sulphate, organics, and chloride) in real-time (up to 15 min). The ACSM is designed and built on the same technology as Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS), combining an aerodynamic particle focusing lens (~40-1000 nm) with high vacuum thermal particle vaporization and mass spectrometry.

Gas/Particle Ion Chromatograph (GPIC)

The GPIC semi-continuously measures water-soluble inorganic particles and gases using ion chromatography and conductivity detection methods. The GPIC can be configured to measure either aerosols, gases, or both species simultaneously. The GPIC is subdivided into two systems that independently collect and analyze particulate matter and gases - each on separate channels, and both with a 15-minute time resolution. Aerosol species of interest include SO42-, NO3-, NO2-, Cl-, and NH4+. Gaseous species measured by the GPIC include SO2, HNO3, HCl, HNO2, and NH3.

Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS)

The AMS is a non-intrusive instrument capable of measuring aerosol chemical composition, and can also monitor chemical composition as a function of particle size for particles ranging in size from 50 to 700 nm. Particle time-of-flight measurements are used to determine the size of aerosols, while time-of-flight mass spectrometry is used to determine their composition with a time resolution as high as one second.

Proton-Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS)

The PTR-MS provides real-time concentration measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with a detection limit in the parts-per- trillion range, and an instrument response time of less than 100 milliseconds.

Xact 625 monitoring system

The Xact 625 is an X-ray based platform capable of continuously and simultaneously measuring up to 24 metals found in ambient air. The system uses reel-to-reel (RTR) filter tape sampling and nondestructive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis to monitor metals in ambient particulate matter.

Mobile Analysis of ParticuLate in the Environment (MAPLE)

MAPLE is a mobile sampling vehicle capable of measuring the spatial and temporal variations of ambient aerosol characteristics. MAPLE can also be used to study atmospheric processes, map concentration distributions of aerosols, and determine the composition of emission sources and their influence on local and regional air quality.

  • Environment Canada
  • NETCARE (Network on Climate and Aerosols: Addressing Key Uncertainties in Remote Canadian Environments)
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • AllerGen NCE Inc.
  • Health Canada