A Guideline for PID Instrument Response

RAE Systems PIDs can be used for the detection of a wide variety of gases that exhibit different responses. In general, any compound with ionization energy (IE) lower than that of the lamp photons can be measured. The best way to calibrate a PID to different compounds is to use a standard of the gas of interest. However, correction factors have been determined that enable the user to quantify a large number of chemicals using only a single calibration gas, typically isobutylene. In our PIDs, correction factors can be used in one of three ways:

  1. Calibrate the monitor with isobutylene in the usual fashion to read in isobutylene equivalents. Manually multiply the reading by the correction factor (CF) to obtain the concentration of the gas being measured.

  2. Calibrate the unit with isobutylene in the usual fashion to read in isobutylene equivalents. Call up the correction factor from the instrument memory or download it from a personal computer and then call it up. The monitor will then read directly in units of the gas of interest.

  3. Calibrate the unit with isobutylene, but input an equivalent, “corrected” span gas concentration when prompted for this value. The unit will then read directly in units of the gas of interest


Example 1: With the unit calibrated to read isobutylene equivalents, the reading is 10 ppm with a 10.6 eV lamp. The gas being measured is butyl acetate, which has a correction factor of 2.6. Multiplying 10 by 2.6 gives an adjusted butyl acetate value of 26 ppm. Similarly, if the gas being measured were trichloroethylene (CF = 0.54), the adjusted value with a 10 ppm reading would be 5.4 ppm.


Example 2: With the unit calibrated to read isobutylene equivalents, the reading is 100 ppm with a 10.6 eV lamp. The gas measured is m-xylene (CF = 0.43). After downloading this factor, the unit should read about 43 ppm when exposed to the same gas, and thus read directly in m-xylene values.


Example 3: The desired gas to measure is ethylene dichloride (EDC). The CF is 0.6 with an 11.7 eV lamp. During calibration with 100 ppm isobutylene, insert 0.6 times 100, or 60 at the prompt for the calibration gas concentration. The unit then reads directly in EDC values.

Conversion from ppm to mg/m3

For air at 25°C (77°F), the molar gas volume is 24.4 L/mole and the formula reduces to:

Conc.(mg/m3) = Conc.(ppmv) x mol.wt (g/mole) x 0.041

For example, if the instrument is calibrated with a gas standard in ppmv, such as 100 ppm isobutylene, and the user wants the display to read in mg/m3 of hexane, whose m.w. is 86 and CF is 4.3, the overall correction factor would be 4.3 x 86 x 0.041 equals 15.2.

Table of Abreviations

CF = Correction Factor (multiply by reading to get corrected value for the compound when calibrated to isobutylene)

NR = No Response

IE = Ionization Energy (values in parentheses are not well established)

C = Confirmed Value indicated by “+” in this column; all others are preliminary or estimated values and are subject to change



This is a general guideline for Correction Factors (CF) for use with PID instruments manufactured by RAE Systems. The CF may vary depending on instrument and operation conditions. For the best accuracy, RAE Systems recommends calibrating the instrument to target gas. Actual readings may vary with age and cleanliness of lamp, relative humidity, and other factors as well. For accurate work, the instrument should be calibrated regularly under the operating conditions used. The factors in this table on the following pages were measured in dry air (40 to 50% RH) at room temperature, typically at 50 to 100 ppm. CF values may vary above about 1000 ppm.

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