Posts Tagged respirable dust
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.
This was how many conversations started while exhibiting at conference last week. OSHA released its rule for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica back in March and many are still looking to understand how it will affect their business and employees.
The new rule goes into effect on June 23, 2016 and most business will have between one to five years to comply depending on industry. The new standard reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift. This is a reduction is two to five times lower than the previous PEL.
Are we running exhaust fans enough to keep the air breathable and safe? Are we over-running fans and wasting energy?
Area exposure monitors are ideal for showing airborne particulate concentration over time in a designated area. Personal exposure monitors can do the same, but they also provide usable details about concentrations within the employee’s breathing zone. Used together, the two device types provide effective real-time data for making decisions regarding employee health and ventilation control.
Recently, we helped a customer with a large welding operation. There was visible smoke on the plant floor during operation, so they needed to address both potential hexavalent chrome and total respirable dust exposure. They decided to use the TSI DustTrak DRX handheld unit for area monitoring, and employees started wearing TSI SidePak AM510s for personal monitoring.
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.