Workplace Airborne Dust Monitoring
Dust simply refers to fine particles of matter that are suspended in the atmosphere. It comes from a wide array of sources such as soil, paper, fossil fuels combustion, industrial activities, mining activities, burning of biomass, and vegetation (pollen and fungi) (Zilaout, Vlaanderen, Houba, & Kromhout, 2017). Dust can be found both indoors and outdoors, and its concentration varies depending on the activities being done and substances available in the environment. Since dust refers suspended fine particles of matter, it can be dangerous and lead to serious diseases and even deaths, especially if it originates from similar hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos. In most cases, dust is not dangerous since it usually originates from relatively inert materials like paper. This paper is a laboratory report of an experiment done at the boiler room of the university, C wing, to evaluate the occupation hygiene of employees who work in this area.
- Dust filter
- Pump (Gillian 5000)
- Sartorius electronic weighing scale (for weighing the filters)
- We started the experiment by inspecting each pump (Gillian 5000) to ensure it was clean (free of visible dust). We then connected the pumps to the gilibrator. Once the gilibrator was pressed thrice, it gave the flow rate and the average for each pump.
- We weighed each clean filter, before doing the dust sampling, on the Sartorius weighing scale. We used tweezers to pick and weigh the filters, to avoid using bare hands that could damage the filters.
- Once we had weighed the filters needed for the experiment, we placed them on their respective pumps.
- Three pumps were used in the analysis of respiratory dust and the other three for nuisance dust.
- After setting up our testing equipment, we headed to the boiling room for dust sampling.
- The test equipment were left for 60 minutes so that they could collect enough dust for testing.
- After 60 minutes, we took back the instruments to the laboratory and weighed the dirty filters, which was important for the analysis of the volume of dust per liter.
- We then recalibrated the three pumps again, which helped us in determining the average flow rate.
- The concentration of dust was determined using the formula (µg of dust/(flowrate * sample time).
- It is important to note that 1 milligram (mg) equals to 1000 microgram (µg)
|Pre Cal||Respirable dust pump||Total dust pump|
|Ave. pre Cal.||1.703||1.973|
|Ave. Post Cal||1.694||1.953|
|Ave. Pre and Post Cal.||1.698||1.963|
|Filter weight- Pre Sample||0.01122gm||0.01107gm|
|Filter weight-Post sample||0.01123gm||0.01109gm|
|Differences||0.00001gm (10 µg)||0.00002gm (20 µg)|
|µg of dust||10||20|
|Litres of air volume||1.698*60= 101.88||1.963*60= 117.78|
|µg/L= mg/m3||0.09815 µg/L||0.1698 µg/L|
|TWA/TLV||3mg/m3||Wood dust TLV is 1 mg/m3
General total dust is 10mg/m3
An example of how the formula was applied:
Total Dust Pump
Pre. Cal. Average (1.973+ 1.974+ 1.971)/3= 1.973
Post. Cal. Average (1.954 + 1.953+ 1.954)/3= 1.953
Average of Post and Pre. Cal. (1.973+ 1.953)/2= 1.963
Differences in filter weight (0.01109gm- 0.01107gm= 0.00002gm)
1,000,000 µg= 1 gm. Therefore, 0.00002gm= 20 µg
Liters of air volume in 60 minutes= (1.963*60= 117.78L)
Dust in µg/L= 20 µg /117.778L= 0.1698 µg/L
The results in both the respirable dust pump and the total dust pump were 0.09815 µg/L and 0.1698 µg/L, which is below their threshold limit value (TLV). The TLV values for respiratory dust and total dust is 3 µg/L, and that of total dust is ten µg/L. Based on these results, the boiler room of the university is safe for the employees. However, this analysis should be done randomly and at multiple times so that it can consider various changes and activities that take place in the boiler at different times of the day (Thorpe & Walsh, 2013).
Besides checking on the volume of dust in the boiler, it is essential for further analysis to be made on the type of dust in this room. Usually, dust particles differ depending on the matter from which they originate. Therefore, an analysis of the dust particles that are on the filters can help in determining if the air is toxic (from hazardous materials like asbestos and lead), or it is simply made of inert matter. Such an examination can enable us to conclude whether the dust levels and dust in the boiler room is safe based on its concentration and toxicity (Walsh, Forth, Clark, & Thorpe, 2009).
Exposure to high levels of dust, especially if it is made of hazardous matter, can cause serious health effects. This lab report gives the findings of our test of the dust levels at the University’s boiler room. From our results, the boiler room is safe since the respiratory and total dust levels are below their threshold limit values. Nonetheless, further analysis of the specific matter that forms the dust in the boiler room should be undertaken to determine if it originates from safe or inert materials. This information is essential in enabling us to establish the safety of workers in the boiler room.
Thorpe, A., & Walsh, P. (2013). Direct-reading inhalable dust monitoring. An assessment of current measurement. An assessment of current measurement methods. The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 57(7), 824-841. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/met002
Walsh, P., Forth, A., Clark, R., & Thorpe, A. (2009). Real-time measurement of dust in the workplace using Video Exposure Monitoring: Farming to pharmaceuticals. Journal of Physics Conference Series, 151(1): 012043. DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/151/1/012043.
Zilaout, H., Vlaanderen, J., Houba, R., & Kromhout, H. (2017). 15 years of monitoring occupational exposure to respirable dust and quartz within the European industrial minerals sector. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 220(5), 810-819. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.03.010.