A Comparison of the Performance of Samplers for Respirable Dust in Workplaces and Laboratory Analysis for Respirable Quartz

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The divergent sampling techniques for respirable dust and the analyses for crystalline silica are an important area of interest and discussion among industrial occupational hygienists in Europe. The variety of equipment for air sampling, methods and instrumentation can cause differences between results for the analysis of respirable crystalline silica (RCS). In this study, a Workplace Atmosphere Multi-sampler (WAM), developed by Adhesia, was used to compare respirable dust samplers in the workplace. This rotating device enables the comparison of 12 samplers in a workplace in each run. Seven laboratories participated in the comparison, using six different respirable dust samplers [British Cast Iron Research Association (BCIRA) to the Higgins Dewell (HD) design, Dorr Oliver, Casella SIMPEDS, SKC HD with a polycarbonate filter and polyvinylchloride filter, and the CIP10-R). Each laboratory analysed samples supplied by the samplers and reported the total respirable dust concentration and the RCS concentration. The techniques used were X-ray diffraction direct-on-filter, X-ray diffraction with deposition, infrared direct-on-filter, and infrared with potassium bromide (KBr) discs. The experiments were carried out in four different industries (enamel, sand extraction, foundry and brickworks). Generally, the SKC conductive black plastic sampler is oversampled (y = 1.52x + 0.008) and the CIP10 is undersampled (y = 0.74x + 0.068) when compared with the median air concentration. A pair-wise comparison of the different industries using t-tests indicated significant differences (P < 0.05) between the SKC conductive plastic samplers and the other samplers. The same series of statistical calculations were performed for the results obtained for RCS (quartz) and showed significant differences for the CIP10 techniques and the SKC conductive plastic cyclone analyses when using a polyvinylchloride filter.

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