Posts Tagged particulate monitoring
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.
Do workers in your offices suffer from long bouts of sneezing, sniffling, cough, sore throat, itchy or red eyes and skin, or fatigue — for no explainable reason?
The mold and pollen counts are low. But workers complain of headaches, stuffed noses, itchy eyes, and breathing problems. Do they say they feel better at home in the evenings or on weekends, or when they leave the office during lunch? Is it just cold season, or an environmental illness caused by exposure to respirable particles or chemicals?
Exposure to respirable dust is an issue for a number of industries. Mines, foundries and metal fabricators are just a few that are concerned with employee lung health. The mining industry in particular has been fighting silicosis, a lung disease that can be disabling and sometimes fatal.
There is a new tool available for that can help to identify specific work tasks which cause high respirable dust exposure. NIOSH has developed a software program that combines video from a lightweight helmet camera with data collected with personal aerosol monitors. As an employee goes through their day, video is recorded while the aerosol monitor takes instantaneous dust concentration readings every two seconds. At the end of a set amount of time, this data is uploaded into a computer and integrated with a software program called EVADE.
EVADE (Enhanced Video Analysis of Dust Exposure) provides a single, integrated display recorded video above a graph, depicting an employees’s dust concentrations as measured by the aerosol monitor in real time. This becomes a powerful tool for identifying specific work activities and areas of high exposure.
I had an interesting meeting lately at a steel foundry where their goal was to make their foundry look, feel, and smell more like a machine shop or general production area. Foundries are not known for their cleanliness or their comfort. They are hot, loud, dark, sometimes smokey, and often sooty. This is a company that has been around for a long time, but they are starting to run into a problem that is likely common among many manufacturers: attracting the next generation of workers.
As the average age of workers in these types of industries begins to climb and more and more are beginning to leave the workforce, companies may be left with a void. Not only for the physical labor itself, but the knowledge, experience, and expertise. These companies may be willing to train employees, but some worry that they won’t even be able to do that if certain jobs are seen as, well, dirty.
“There aren’t many kids that graduate from school that want to come work in a foundry,” I was told.
So, how can you make these types of roles more appealing?