Posts Tagged airborne particulate
Last summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted an air quality survey at Union Station in Chicago. The results showed elevated concentrations of respirable particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air on train platforms and nearby streets.
PM2.5 is a mixture of liquid droplets and particles measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These tiny particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs where they can enter the bloodstream and cause serious health problems. The risk is even more severe for youth, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions like asthma.
A customer recently asked the question, “Will the EPA accept the TSI DustTrak as evidence of compliance with ambient air standards?”
The answer, simply: Yes.
The USEPA recognizes the TSI DustTrak as an acceptable “other test method” as specified by OTM 34, section 2.3.1.
I know, I know. I haven’t posted anything in a while. I’d like to think of it as a summer vacation, but it really wasn’t. But enough about me…
Over the summer, TSI introduced its new DustTrak which has been specifically redesigned for long-term outdoor environmental monitoring. While throwing the desktop version into a Pelican case or the other environmental enclosure works fine for short-term projects, the newer version is more rugged and designed specifically for long-term outdoor use.
Every few years, there seems to be a new virus that attracts a lot of media attention. We’ve had swine flu, bird flu, SARS, MERS, and most recently Ebola in the headlines. The healthcare and first responder world are put on full alert. Do we over-react? Maybe. But, it often gets us back to what we should be doing in the first place. We should have a plan to reduce risk. A respirator fit testing program is one of them.
Admittedly, this was news to me. It seems unlikely that items like sugar, soap, or flour would be explosive. Sure, I saw Fight Club, where Tyler Durdin uses household chemicals and soap to intentionally blow thing up, but hadn’t considered that the right circumstances, sugar or soap dust will explode.
So I began looking into it more. What I learned is that if dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, under certain conditions, it can become explosive. Dust can burn rapidly when it’s in a finely divided form. Typically, the finer the dust, the more explosive it can be. This even includes materials that do not burn like aluminum or iron. Plus, these explosions can and have caused injuries and even deaths. Entire buildings have been destroyed from sugar explosions!
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that led to the deaths of 119 workers, injured 718, and extensively damaged numerous industrial facilities.