Comparing PM2.5, respirable dust, and total dust fractions using real-time and gravimetric samples in an exposure chamber study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Using an exposure chamber, we investigate the precision of the DustTrak DRX monitor by comparing its results to those obtained from taking traditional gravimetric samples of two stone minerals commonly used in asphalt and lactose powder. We also discuss the possibility of using real-time monitors such as DustTrak DRX for occupational exposure monitoring purposes. The results are based on 19 days of experiment, each day with measurements collected over 4 h. Compared to the gravimetric samples, the DustTrak DRX overestimated the PM2.5 and respirable dust concentrations, while it underestimated the total dust concentration by a factor of nearly two. However, the ratios, being done for more than one material, between the DustTrak DRX and the gravimetric sample readings varied daily and across the different exposure materials. Real-time sensors have the potential to excel at identifying exposure sources, evaluating the measured control efficiency, visualizing variations in exposure to motivate workers, and contributing to the identification of measures to be implemented to reduce exposure. For total dust, a correction factor of at least two should be used to bring its readings up to those for the corresponding gravimetric samples. Also, if the DustTrak DRX is used in the initial profiling of occupational exposure, the exposure could be considered acceptable if the readings are well below the occupational exposure limit (OELs) after correction. If the DustTrak DRX readings, after correction, is close to, or above, the accepted exposure concentrations, more thorough approaches would be required to validate the exposure.