A headset-mounted mini sampler for measuring exposure to welding aerosol in the breathing zone.Ann Occup Hyg. 2009 Mar; 53(2):99-116.AO
There is a need for a small personal aerosol sampler for measuring occupational exposure to airborne particles in the breathing zone. Existing aerosol samplers are too large to be mounted inside modern welder's protective equipment without disturbing the worker. A headset-mounted mini sampler has been developed to fill this gap with focus on manganese exposure. This mini sampler is easy to use and can be mounted inside modern, slimline welder's face shield. The mini sampler is based on a commercially available 13-mm filter holder that has been modified to incorporate an inlet nozzle made of aluminium. The nominal flow rate of the mini sampler is 0.75 l min(-1). The mini sampler is to be worn mounted on a headset, modified from professional microphone headsets. Several aspects related to using the mini sampler have been tested by personal and static sampling at five workplaces and in the laboratory. Four headset models were tested for their suitability as a sampler holder, of which three models were accepted by the welders. The sampling bias of the mini sampler versus the IOM sampler and the open-face 25-mm filter holder, respectively, depends on the size distribution of the sampled aerosol. At the lowest encountered mass concentration ratio of the open-face 25-mm filter holder to the IOM sampler (0.65), the sampling bias of the mini sampler versus the IOM sampler is approximately -26% and versus the open-face 25-mm filter holder is approximately +12%. For manganese, the negative root mean square (RMS) sampling bias of the mini sampler versus the IOM sampler is -0.046 and versus the open-face 25-mm filter holder is non-significant. Both these biases are statistically non-significant. The mini sampler can therefore be employed for determining welders' occupational exposure to manganese. The pressure drop across the filter can become excessive due to the small filtration area. Compared to the Casella Apex pump, the SKC AirChek2000 pump was generally found to be able to keep its flow rate constant within +/-5% at higher concentrations and for longer sampling times. Our results indicate that the inhalable fraction of the welding aerosol mass at the visited plants only consisted of 25-55% welding fume particles (agglomerates of coagulated particles generated by nucleation/condensation). The rest of the mass is made up of particles from spattering and grinding. More than 65% of manganese is generally found in the fume particles. The weighing precision of 13-mm filters is 2.2 microg. The RMS sample loss due to transport when loaded samples are shipped by mail in padded envelopes is 6 microg. Both figures are very low in comparison to the mass expected to be collected by personal sampling, generally exceeding 200 microg. The headset-mounted mini sampler is user-friendly, easy to adjust individually, does not disturb the welder during sampling and allows sampling inside personal protective equipment. The headset mounting arrangement improves personal sampling as it maintains the sampler close to the nose/mouth during the whole sampling period. This study shows that the developed headset-mounted mini sampler is suitable for assessing exposure to manganese in welding aerosol.