Occupational Exposure to Respirable Dust, Respirable Crystalline Silica and Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions in the London Tunnelling Environment

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Abstract

Personal 8-h shift exposure to respirable dust, diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE) (as respirable elemental carbon), and respirable crystalline silica of workers involved in constructing an underground metro railway tunnel was assessed. Black carbon (BC) concentrations were also assessed using a MicroAeth AE51. During sprayed concrete lining (SCL) activities in the tunnel, the geometric mean (GM) respirable dust exposure level was 0.91mg m−3, with the highest exposure measured on a back-up sprayer (3.20mg m−3). The GM respirable crystalline silica concentration for SCL workers was 0.03mg m−3, with the highest measurement also for the back-up sprayer (0.24mg m−3). During tunnel boring machine (TBM) activities, the GM respirable dust concentration was 0.54mg m−3. The GM respirable elemental carbon concentration for all the TBM operators was 18 µg m−3; with the highest concentration measured on a segment lifter. The BC concentrations were higher in the SCL environment in comparison to the TBM environment (daily GM 18–54 µg m−3 versus 3–6 µg m−3). This small-scale monitoring campaign provides additional personal data on exposures experienced by underground tunnel construction workers.

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