Ion Science Ltd.

VOCs in HAZMAT and the power of PID detection

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Courtesy of Ion Science Ltd.

An emergency response organisation will greatly increase its effectiveness and the level of protection it offers its employees (Responders) by deploying a photoionisation detector (PID).

Incidents Involving VOCs
Many Hazardous Materials incidents involve volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a vast chemical family that is primarily made up of hydrocarbons such as gasoline, alcohols, methane and acetone as well as the BTEX family which include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Typically, VOCs have a high vapour pressure at ambient temperatures, meaning the liquid gives off vapour that can be readily detected.

The Power Of PID Detection
In the world of First Response and government defence the speed and accuracy in which hazards are identified are of paramount importance. A PID detector enables hazardous materials responders to identify the presence of gases and vapours and then quantify them.

PIDs can monitor the ambient air for parts per million (ppm) and parts per billion (ppb) concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to evaluate the danger and determine if leaking fugitive gases are toxic.

From the information provided by the PID instrument, a First Response team can determine a safe distance from the scene and the potential leaking gases to establish a precise control perimeter to ensure personnel and any bystanders are kept safe.

Although PID is not specific in terms of gas selection its continuous and almost instant response rate enables First Responders to carry out their jobs secure in the knowledge that their exposure to hazardous chemicals is limited.

PIDs combine flexibility and precision to provide first responders with a gas detection tool that can be integrated within all phases of the public safety process.

Summary
During contamination, decontamination and remediation, PID sensors can quickly monitor, acquire and log measurements to provide vital information on clean up procedures and later on in post- incident analysis, allowing First Responders to learn from each incident.

The ability of PID to supply accurate measurements in a wide range of diverse situations make it a very powerful tool for First Responders in a Hazardous Materials emergency which will be discussed in further detail in subsequent guides.

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