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What is the difference between ppmw, mg/L, and ppmv?

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What is the difference between ppmw, mg/L, and

ppmv?
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Chris Cogswell, studied Chemical Engineering & Philosophy at University of New Hampshire (2012)

PPM is parts per million, with ppmw meaning parts per million weight, ppmv meaning parts per million volume, and
mg/L being a simple density value (given in grams per given liter of fluid generally). The major difference between
these notations is their use, with the ppm values generally being given for concentrations whereas the mg/L being given
as a fundamental quality of the density of a material. That being said, parts per million by weight (ppmw) is calculated
as this units of mass per million units total mass. So if you have 1 ppmw of lead in groundwater you can expect one
gram lead per million grams of groundwater total. PPMV is usually used for air concentrations or gaseous

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-ppmw-mg-L-and-ppmv[2/1/2018 10:35:47 AM]

What is the difference between ppmw, mg/L, and ppmv? - Quora

concentrations, and at normal conditions is equivalent to parts per million by mole/by individual gas particle itself. So in
other works 1 ppmv of CO2 in air can mean 1 molecule of CO2 in a million “air” molecules, one mole of CO2 per
million moles of air, OR one unit volume of CO2 per million units volume of air, thanks to the idea gas law. For
practical purposes if a value is given as simple ppm you can generally assume it is parts per million by volume if it is
being used for concentration. To convert between these values you would use density to convert to volume or mass or
vice versa. To get total number of particles you use the total volume or total mass of your system. E.g. 100 ppmw of
CO2 in a 10 gram stream is (100 gram CO2 / 10^6 gram total)*(10 gram stream).

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Xuan Li

All those three are common concentration units, with different definitions and usages. They are used to quantitatively
describe how much individual component is contained in the mixture. I think the best way to understand their correct
method of use is to give their respective definition, followed by an example.

ppmw stands for Part per Million by Weight. The concentration of component A is 1 ppmw means: For every 1 million
unit weight of mixture, there are 1 unit weight of component A in it.

What is unit weight? Could be anything like 1 mg, 1 g, 1 kg, 1 pound, as long as we use the same weight unit (mg, g,
kg, pound) through the statement. “There are 1 mg of component A in every 1 million mg of mixture” is equal to “There
is 1 pound of component A in every 1 million pound of mixture”: they are both 1 ppmw. You can name your own
weight unit, say, “fist” or “Mike”, which is equal to 3.256489 kg. Then, “There is 1 Mike of component A in every 1
million Mike of mixture, also means 1 ppmw.

ppmw is often used to characterize concentration when both the mixture and the component are measured by weight.
For example, you know you have 1 million kg (weight unit) of gun powder, within which there are 500 kg (weight unit)
of sulfate salt. Then the concentration of sulfate salt in gun powder is 500 ppmw. Both the mixture (gun powder) and the
component (sulfate salt) are measured by weight.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-ppmw-mg-L-and-ppmv[2/1/2018 10:35:47 AM]

What is the difference between ppmw, mg/L, and ppmv? - Quora

Wait, is that possible we measure them by volume? Yes, we can! But not very practical or common for gun powder,
right? Of course you can use weight unit if you want to do so. Then I will give you a better example, uh, human. Mike
weights 150 pounds, and there are 100,000 ppmw of bones in him. We know, after calculation, there are 15 pounds of
bones in Mike’s body. Typically, we don’t say: Mike is 25 gallons…there are 1 gallons of bones in him.

But when it comes to something volume is the better unit to measure them, ppmv will be used.

ppmv stands for Part per Million by Volume. The concentration of component A is 1 ppmv means: For every 1 million
unit volume of mixture, there are 1 unit volume of component A in it.

Gaseous mixtures are very often characterized by ppmv. For example, there are 100 L of air, within which, there are 21
L of oxygen. What is the ppmv of O2 in air? Of course, again, if you want to weight air, instead measure their volume,
be my guest…

Then it comes the third scenario, when the mixture is characterized by volume, and the component is measured by
weight. Liquid mixture is one of the examples usually characterized by ratio of weigh/volume. “The concentration of
sugar in Coca is 100 mg/L” means, for every 1 L of Coca, there are 100 mg of sugar in it. Is that a lot? Check out this
blog.

To summarize, ppmw, ppmv and mg/L are all concentration units. People use different concentration units for different
scenarios purely out of convenience.

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Aditya Devraj, Btech Chemical Engineering, Birsa Institute of Technology, Sindri (2020)

For the diffrence between ppmw and ppmv

According to its abbreviation “ppmv” stands for “parts per million volume.” Trace gases found in the atmosphere such
as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other pollutants in the air are denoted by “ppmv” that is, parts per
million by volume.
In cases of some liquids, “ppmv” is also used meaning a certain volume of a substance dissolved in one million parts per
volume of liquid.
In cases of some liquids, if some substance is dissolved in it, it is denoted by” ppmw” or “ppm,” indicating a weight of
dissolved substance in its one million weight. A unit of weight can be denoted in kg, gram, or any other weight unit. It is
advisable to use ppm-by-weight or “ppmw” rather than “ppm” otherwise it may create confusion.

And mg/l is mili gram per volume that is similar to ppm as 1mg/l is equal to 1ppm

Debasish Dutta
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