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Sensor Systems for the Chemical and Biochemical Safety of Working Places

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Chemical Sensors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2024) | Viewed by 16413

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research-National Research Council (IIA-CNR), Via Salaria km 29,300, Monterotondo, 00016 Rome, Italy
Interests: electrospinning technology; nanocomposite materials for sensors; environment; air pollutants; gas; chemical vapors; VOCs; SVOCs; atmospheric mercury active and passive sensing strategies
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Epidemiology and Hygiene, INAIL, 00078 Rome, Italy
Interests: occupational toxicology; assessment of the environmental and occupational exposure to chemicals; biomonitoring and health effects
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Electronic Engineering University of Rome Via del Politecnico 1, 00133 Roma, Italy
Interests: chemical sensors and bio-sensors; electronic nose and electronic tongue; electronics for sensor; machine learning techniques for sensor data
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Roma Tre, Largo San Leonardo Murialdo 1, Roma, Italy
Interests: PM pollution; asbestos; gas sensing; environmental mineralogy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Industrial processes involve the use and/or the production of harmful compounds that can contaminate the workplace air. Common protection systems avoid the acute exposure of operators, however for most of these compounds the continuous exposure at sub-acute concentrations, specially of mixtures, could result in severe long-term health consequences. Thus, a continuous monitoring and mapping of personal exposure is a basic tool to improve the quality of life and protect health in working places. For the scope it is mandatory the development of chemical sensors and biosensors aimed to identify potential harmful situations, and also able to qualify and quantitate the possible dangerous substances even at very low airborne concentrations. The implementation of wearable technologies and sensor networks is also considered fundamental to monitor continuously the chemical surround of individuals and to map the distribution of chemicals in extended working places.

The special issue is addressed to chemical and bio-chemical sensors specifically designed for selected working places and to those technologies (electronics, communication, data analysis,…) necessary for effective sensors deployment.

Examples are sensors for gases, sensors for temperature dependent volatile substances, sensors for multiple exposures, alarm systems for life dangerous situations, sensors for substances derived from biological agents, sensor networks and systems for control and communications of sensor networks.

The issue include all kinds of chemical sensors and biosensors for pathogens and sensor systems and their deployment and use in real conditions. These topics fit completely with the scope of this journal.

Dr. Antonella Macagnano
Dr. Giovanna Tranfo
Prof. Dr. Corrado Di Natale
Prof. Dr. Giancarlo Della Ventura
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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22 pages, 9418 KiB  
Article
A Polyvinylpyrrolidone Nanofibrous Sensor Doubly Decorated with Mesoporous Graphene to Selectively Detect Acetic Acid Vapors
by Paolo Papa, Emiliano Zampetti, Fabricio Nicolas Molinari, Fabrizio De Cesare, Corrado Di Natale, Giovanna Tranfo and Antonella Macagnano
Sensors 2024, 24(7), 2174; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24072174 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 830
Abstract
An original approach has been proposed for designing a nanofibrous (NF) layer using UV-cured polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) as a matrix, incorporating mesoporous graphene carbon (MGC) nanopowder both inside and outside the fibers, creating a sandwich-like structure. This architecture is intended to selectively adsorb and [...] Read more.
An original approach has been proposed for designing a nanofibrous (NF) layer using UV-cured polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) as a matrix, incorporating mesoporous graphene carbon (MGC) nanopowder both inside and outside the fibers, creating a sandwich-like structure. This architecture is intended to selectively adsorb and detect acetic acid vapors, which are known to cause health issues in exposed workers. The nanocomposite MGC-PVP-NFs layer was fabricated through electrospinning deposition onto interdigitated microelectrodes (IDEs) and stabilized under UV–light irradiation. To enhance the adhesion of MGC onto the surface of the nanocomposite polymeric fibers, the layer was dipped in a suspension of polyethyleneimine (PEI) and MGC. The resulting structure demonstrated promising electrical and sensing properties, including rapid responses, high sensitivity, good linearity, reversibility, repeatability, and selectivity towards acetic acid vapors. Initial testing was conducted in a laboratory using a bench electrometer, followed by validation in a portable sensing device based on consumer electronic components (by ARDUINO®). This portable system was designed to provide a compact, cost-effective solution with high sensing capabilities. Under room temperature and ambient air conditions, both laboratory and portable tests exhibited favorable linear responses, with detection limits of 0.16 and 1 ppm, respectively. Full article
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16 pages, 6327 KiB  
Article
ZnO Decorated Graphene-Based NFC Tag for Personal NO2 Exposure Monitoring during a Workday
by Alejandro Santos-Betancourt, José Carlos Santos-Ceballos, Mohamed Ayoub Alouani, Shuja Bashir Malik, Alfonso Romero, José Luis Ramírez, Xavier Vilanova and Eduard Llobet
Sensors 2024, 24(5), 1431; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24051431 - 22 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 976
Abstract
This paper presents the integration of a sensing layer over interdigitated electrodes and an electronic circuit on the same flexible printed circuit board. This integration provides an effective technique to use this design as a wearable gas measuring system in a target application, [...] Read more.
This paper presents the integration of a sensing layer over interdigitated electrodes and an electronic circuit on the same flexible printed circuit board. This integration provides an effective technique to use this design as a wearable gas measuring system in a target application, exhibiting high performance, low power consumption, and being lightweight for on-site monitoring. The wearable system proves the concept of using an NFC tag combined with a chemoresistive gas sensor as a cumulative gas sensor, having the possibility of holding the data for a working day, and completely capturing the exposure of a person to NO2 concentrations. Three different types of sensors were tested, depositing the sensing layers on gold electrodes over Kapton substrate: bare graphene, graphene decorated with 5 wt.% zinc oxide nanoflowers, or nanopillars. The deposited layers were characterized using FESEM, EDX, XRD, and Raman spectroscopy to determine their crystalline structure, morphological and chemical compositions. The gas sensing performance of the sensors was analyzed against NO2 (dry and humid conditions) and other interfering species (dry conditions) to check their sensitivity and selectivity. The resultant-built wearable NFC tag system accumulates the data in a non-volatile memory every minute and has an average low power consumption of 24.9 µW in dynamic operation. Also, it can be easily attached to a work vest. Full article
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13 pages, 5250 KiB  
Article
Personal VOCs Exposure with a Sensor Network Based on Low-Cost Gas Sensor, and Machine Learning Enabled Indoor Localization
by Leonardo Papale, Alexandro Catini, Rosamaria Capuano, Valerio Allegra, Eugenio Martinelli, Massimo Palmacci, Giovanna Tranfo and Corrado Di Natale
Sensors 2023, 23(5), 2457; https://doi.org/10.3390/s23052457 - 23 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2081
Abstract
Indoor locations with limited air exchange can easily be contaminated by harmful volatile compounds. Thus, is of great interest to monitor the distribution of chemicals indoors to reduce associated risks. To this end, we introduce a monitoring system based on a Machine Learning [...] Read more.
Indoor locations with limited air exchange can easily be contaminated by harmful volatile compounds. Thus, is of great interest to monitor the distribution of chemicals indoors to reduce associated risks. To this end, we introduce a monitoring system based on a Machine Learning approach that processes the information delivered by a low-cost wearable VOC sensor incorporated in a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN). The WSN includes fixed anchor nodes necessary for the localization of mobile devices. The localization of mobile sensor units is the main challenge for indoor applications. Yes. The localization of mobile devices was performed by analyzing the RSSIs with machine learning algorithms aimed at localizing the emitting source in a predefined map. Tests performed on a 120 m2 meandered indoor location showed a localization accuracy greater than 99%. The WSN, equipped with a commercial metal oxide semiconductor gas sensor, was used to map the distribution of ethanol from a point-like source. The sensor signal correlated with the actual ethanol concentration as measured by a PhotoIonization Detector (PID), demonstrating the simultaneous detection and localization of the VOC source. Full article
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11 pages, 1699 KiB  
Article
Non-Contact, Continuous Sampling of Porous Surfaces for the Detection of Particulate and Adsorbed Organic Contaminations by Low-Temperature Plasma Coupled to Ion Mobility Spectrometer
by Izhar Ron, Hagay Sharabi, Amalia Zaltsman, Amir Leibman, Mordi Hotoveli, Alexander Pevzner and Shai Kendler
Sensors 2023, 23(4), 2253; https://doi.org/10.3390/s23042253 - 17 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1411
Abstract
Chemical analysis of hazardous surface contaminations, such as hazardous substances, explosives or illicit drugs, is an essential task in security, environmental and safety applications. This task is mostly based on the collection of particles with swabs, followed by thermal desorption into a vapor [...] Read more.
Chemical analysis of hazardous surface contaminations, such as hazardous substances, explosives or illicit drugs, is an essential task in security, environmental and safety applications. This task is mostly based on the collection of particles with swabs, followed by thermal desorption into a vapor analyzer, usually a detector based on ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). While this methodology is well established for several civil applications, such as border control, it is still not efficient enough for various conditions, as in sampling rough and porous surfaces. Additionally, the process of thermal desorption is energetically inefficient, requires bulky hardware and introduces device contamination memory effects. Low-temperature plasma (LTP) has been demonstrated as an ionization and desorption source for sample preparation-free analysis, mostly at the inlet of a mass spectrometer analyzer, and in rare cases in conjunction with an ion mobility spectrometer. Herein, we demonstrate, for the first time, the operation of a simple, low cost, home-built LTP apparatus for desorbing non-volatile analytes from various porous surfaces into the inlet of a handheld IMS vapor analyzer. We show ion mobility spectra that originate from operating the LTP jet on porous surfaces such as asphalt and shoes, contaminated with model amine-containing organic compounds. The spectra are in good correlation with spectra measured for thermally desorbed species. We verify through LC-MS analysis of the collected vapors that the sampled species are not fragmented, and can thus be identified by commercial IMS detectors. Full article
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14 pages, 9877 KiB  
Article
A Pilot Study for Legionella pneumophila Volatilome Characterization Using a Gas Sensor Array and GC/MS Techniques
by Rosamaria Capuano, Antonella Mansi, Emilia Paba, Anna Maria Marcelloni, Alessandra Chiominto, Anna Rita Proietto, Andrea Gordiani, Alexandro Catini, Roberto Paolesse, Giovanna Tranfo and Corrado Di Natale
Sensors 2023, 23(3), 1401; https://doi.org/10.3390/s23031401 - 26 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1804
Abstract
Legionellosis is a generic term describing the pneumonic (Legionnaires’ disease, LD) and non-pneumonic (Pontiac fever, PF) forms of infection with bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Currently, the techniques used to detect Legionella spp. in water samples have certain limitations and drawbacks, [...] Read more.
Legionellosis is a generic term describing the pneumonic (Legionnaires’ disease, LD) and non-pneumonic (Pontiac fever, PF) forms of infection with bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Currently, the techniques used to detect Legionella spp. in water samples have certain limitations and drawbacks, and thus, there is a need to identify new tools to carry out low-cost and rapid analysis. In this regard, several studies demonstrated that a volatolomics approach rapidly detects and discriminates different species of microorganisms via their volatile signature. In this paper, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) pattern emitted in vitro by Legionella pneumophila cultures is characterized and compared to those produced by other Legionella species and by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, using a gas sensor array and gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC-MS). Bacterial cultures were measured at the 3rd and 7th day after the incubation. Sensor array data analyzed via the K-nearest neighbours (k-NN) algorithm showed a sensitivity to Legionella pneumophila identification at around 89%. On the other hand, GC-MS identified a bouquet of VOCs, mainly alcohols and ketones, that enable the differentiation of Legionella pneumophila in respect to other waterborne microorganisms. Full article
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13 pages, 2662 KiB  
Article
Development of a Conductometric Sensor Based on Al,Ca-Doped ZnO for the Detection of Formaldehyde
by Simona Crispi and Giovanni Neri
Sensors 2022, 22(19), 7465; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22197465 - 1 Oct 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
In the present study, the development of a conductometric gas sensor based on Al,Ca-doped zinc oxide composite which is finalized to the detection of formaldehyde (HCHO) at a low concentration in air is investigated. The electrical and sensing properties of the composite based [...] Read more.
In the present study, the development of a conductometric gas sensor based on Al,Ca-doped zinc oxide composite which is finalized to the detection of formaldehyde (HCHO) at a low concentration in air is investigated. The electrical and sensing properties of the composite based on ZnO doped with different loadings of Al and/or Ca (from 0 up to 5 at%) were evaluated. The gas-sensing mechanism of Al,Ca-doped zinc oxide nanocomposite-based sensors was also discussed. The optimized 3%Al,3%Ca-ZnO sensor displayed a formaldehyde response of 3.5 (@ 4 ppm HCHO/air) and an experimental low detection limit of 125 ppb HCHO/air, at the operating temperature of 400 °C. The sensor was also shown to be selective to HCHO with respect to many interferent indoor gases, but NO2 changed the baseline resistance in an opposite way compared to the target gas. The developed device for monitoring HCHO in indoor and workplace environments has the advantage of a simple planar structure and can be easily fabricated for mass production by using low-cost materials and easy fabrication methods. Full article
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12 pages, 1609 KiB  
Article
High Sensitivity Monitoring of VOCs in Air through FTIR Spectroscopy Using a Multipass Gas Cell Setup
by Annalisa D’Arco, Tiziana Mancini, Maria Chiara Paolozzi, Salvatore Macis, Lorenzo Mosesso, Augusto Marcelli, Massimo Petrarca, Francesco Radica, Giovanna Tranfo, Stefano Lupi and Giancarlo Della Ventura
Sensors 2022, 22(15), 5624; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22155624 - 27 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2304
Abstract
Human exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and their presence in indoor and working environments is recognized as a serious health risk, causing impairments of varying severities. Different detecting systems able to monitor VOCs are available in the market; however, they have significant [...] Read more.
Human exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and their presence in indoor and working environments is recognized as a serious health risk, causing impairments of varying severities. Different detecting systems able to monitor VOCs are available in the market; however, they have significant limitations for both sensitivity and chemical discrimination capability. During the last years we studied systematically the use of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy as an alternative, powerful tool for quantifying VOCs in air. We calibrated the method for a set of compounds (styrene, acetone, ethanol and isopropanol) by using both laboratory and portable infrared spectrometers. The aim was to develop a new, and highly sensitive sensor system for VOCs monitoring. In this paper, we improved the setup performance, testing the feasibility of using a multipass cell with the aim of extending the sensitivity of our system down to the part per million (ppm) level. Considering that multipass cells are now also available for portable instruments, this study opens the road for the design of new high-resolution devices for environmental monitoring. Full article
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Review

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22 pages, 2301 KiB  
Review
Ammonia Detection by Electronic Noses for a Safer Work Environment
by Tiago Reis, Pedro Catalão Moura, Débora Gonçalves, Paulo A. Ribeiro, Valentina Vassilenko, Maria Helena Fino and Maria Raposo
Sensors 2024, 24(10), 3152; https://doi.org/10.3390/s24103152 - 15 May 2024
Viewed by 280
Abstract
Providing employees with proper work conditions should be one of the main concerns of any employer. Even so, in many cases, work shifts chronically expose the workers to a wide range of potentially harmful compounds, such as ammonia. Ammonia has been present in [...] Read more.
Providing employees with proper work conditions should be one of the main concerns of any employer. Even so, in many cases, work shifts chronically expose the workers to a wide range of potentially harmful compounds, such as ammonia. Ammonia has been present in the composition of products commonly used in a wide range of industries, namely production in lines, and also laboratories, schools, hospitals, and others. Chronic exposure to ammonia can yield several diseases, such as irritation and pruritus, as well as inflammation of ocular, cutaneous, and respiratory tissues. In more extreme cases, exposure to ammonia is also related to dyspnea, progressive cyanosis, and pulmonary edema. As such, the use of ammonia needs to be properly regulated and monitored to ensure safer work environments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work have already commissioned regulations on the acceptable limits of exposure to ammonia. Nevertheless, the monitoring of ammonia gas is still not normalized because appropriate sensors can be difficult to find as commercially available products. To help promote promising methods of developing ammonia sensors, this work will compile and compare the results published so far. Full article
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16 pages, 338 KiB  
Review
Evolution and Applications of Recent Sensing Technology for Occupational Risk Assessment: A Rapid Review of the Literature
by Giacomo Fanti, Andrea Spinazzè, Francesca Borghi, Sabrina Rovelli, Davide Campagnolo, Marta Keller, Andrea Borghi, Andrea Cattaneo, Emanuele Cauda and Domenico Maria Cavallo
Sensors 2022, 22(13), 4841; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22134841 - 27 Jun 2022
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3286
Abstract
Over the last decade, technological advancements have been made available and applied in a wide range of applications in several work fields, ranging from personal to industrial enforcements. One of the emerging issues concerns occupational safety and health in the Fourth Industrial Revolution [...] Read more.
Over the last decade, technological advancements have been made available and applied in a wide range of applications in several work fields, ranging from personal to industrial enforcements. One of the emerging issues concerns occupational safety and health in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and, in more detail, it deals with how industrial hygienists could improve the risk-assessment process. A possible way to achieve these aims is the adoption of new exposure-monitoring tools. In this study, a systematic review of the up-to-date scientific literature has been performed to identify and discuss the most-used sensors that could be useful for occupational risk assessment, with the intent of highlighting their pros and cons. A total of 40 papers have been included in this manuscript. The results show that sensors able to investigate airborne pollutants (i.e., gaseous pollutants and particulate matter), environmental conditions, physical agents, and workers’ postures could be usefully adopted in the risk-assessment process, since they could report significant data without significantly interfering with the job activities of the investigated subjects. To date, there are only few “next-generation” monitors and sensors (NGMSs) that could be effectively used on the workplace to preserve human health. Due to this fact, the development and the validation of new NGMSs will be crucial in the upcoming years, to adopt these technologies in occupational-risk assessment. Full article
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