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Ground-Based Smoke Sampling Techniques Training Course and Collaborative Local Smoke Sampling in Saudi Arabia (NISTIR 5306)



Nelson P. Bryner, Bruce A. Benner Jr.


Smoke and gaseous emissions such as those generated by multiple oil-well fires can significantly impact the health of the local population. To assess the immediate risk to public health, the chemical and physical properties of the smoke and gaseous emissions must be quickly characterized. Local sampling via portable gas analyzers, filters, and pumps, and particle sizing instrumentation provides real-time characterization of pollutant levels. The Ground-Based Smoke Sampling Techniques Training Course and Collaborative Local Smoke Sampling project was initiated between the Ministry of Defense and Aviation (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA) to train Saudi medical personnel. A team of Saudi and NIST researchers assembled in December 1992 to collect smoke and gas samples in Saudi Arabia for analysis. Sample analysis included determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), CO, CO2 and total particulate concentrations. Split-sample analysis was conducted with some samples being analyzed in Saudi Arabia and other samples being returned to NIST for more specialized analysis, including micro-Raman, laser micro-probe, and environmental scanning electron microscopy. These analyses provide a snapshot of the physical and chemical properties of the aerosols sampled in Saudi Arabia, but due to the very limited number of samples, they do not provide a reasonable basis for estimating the short- or long-term health risk due to exposure to smoke and gaseous emissions. Concentrations of PAHs measured in the samples were about the same order of magnitude as samples collected in Roanoke, Virginia, but 3 to 10 times lower than samples from Boise, Idaho. While these results do suggest significant levels of PAH and dust particulates, the data set is very limited and a program involving the collection and analysis of air samples in or around Saudi Arabian urban areas would provide valuable data for determining current airborne PAH concentrations as well as for devising air pollution control strategies for the future. The appearance of significant concentrations of PAHs in what was expected to provide background levels indicates that a more comprehensive sampling program should be implemented to characterize the levels and the distribution of PAHs throughout the Kingdom.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 5306
Report Number


smoke sampling, aerosols, environmental effects, fire research, oil spills, well fires, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, smoke, smoke collection, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide


Bryner, N. and Benner, B. (1994), Ground-Based Smoke Sampling Techniques Training Course and Collaborative Local Smoke Sampling in Saudi Arabia (NISTIR 5306), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created January 1, 1994, Updated November 10, 2018