Atomization of bismuthane in a planar dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) atomizer was investigated using a variety of probes, including atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) to monitor distribution of free atoms along the optical path and direct analysis in real time (DART) coupled to an Orbitrap mass spectrometer to identify the structure of the species arising from the hydride generator as well as the atomizer. Results obtained with the DBD were compared to those from a conventional externally heated quartz tube atomizer (QTA). Free Bi atoms were essentially absent outside the central part of the DBD atomizer, suggesting their high reactivity. The gas phase analyte fraction transported beyond the confines of the DBD or QTA atomizers, quantified by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), was less than 10 %. The amount of Bi found in acidic leachates of the interiors of both atomizers, representing the fraction retained on their surfaces, was ca 90 %. These complementary experiments comprising the determination of recovered Bi in the nitric acid leachates from deposition in the atomizer on the one hand and quantification of the Bi fraction transportable outside the atomizer on the other, were in excellent agreement, providing 100 % mass balance of detected analyte. The high fraction of Bi deposited in the atomizers indicates significant reactivity of free Bi atoms, which is in accord with the fact that almost no free Bi atoms exist beyond the physical boundaries of the DBD. The extent of interference from other hydride forming elements (As, Sb, Se) on Bi response by AAS using DBD and QTA atomizers was investigated, with the former atomizer providing superior performance. Compared to QTA, DBD provided two orders of magnitude and one order of magnitude, respectively, better resistance to interference from Se and Sb.