What is dust?
Dust is a generic term used to describe fine particles that are suspended in the atmosphere. Dust is formed when fine particles are taken up into the atmosphere (entrained) by the action of wind, by disturbance of fine materials, or through the release of particulate-rich gaseous emissions (primary particles).
Dust comes from a wide variety of sources, including soil, vegetation (pollens and fungi), sea salt, fossil fuel combustion, burning of biomass, and industrial activities.
Dust is typically not classified according to its composition, but rather, its particle size, as follows:
- Deposited matter refers to any dust that falls out of suspension in the atmosphere.
- Total suspended particles (TSP) typically refers to particles 50μm(micrometers) (0.05mm diameter) in size or less.
- PM10 refers to particles 10μm (0.01mm) in size or less.
- PM2.5 refers to particles 2.5μm (0.0025mm) in size or less.
Personal dust monitoring
If your workplace activities generate dust, you must keep your workers safe by ensuring you don’t exceed the relevant Workplace Exposure Standards. Airsafe are experts at air monitoring to determine levels of inhalable dust and respirable dust. We can also help you develop a plan to protect your workers from dust-related risks.
Inhalable dust vs respirable dust
Airsafe offers dust testing throughout Sydney and NSW for both inhalable dust and respirable dust. Respirable dust is a subset of inhalable dust, consisting of the smallest particles that penetrate the deepest into the respiratory system. Each type of dust has its own sampling method and exposure standard.
Inhalable dust consists of dust particles that can be inhaled through the nose or mouth. The human body gets rid of most inhalable dust by filtering it through nasal hair and mucous membranes, and by coughing and sneezing. However, too much inhalable dust can cause health and workplace safety issues including:
- reduced visibility
- symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, watering eyes, coughing
- conditions such as rhinitis and bronchitis.
Airsafe conducts air monitoring in accordance with AS 3640-2009 Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of inhalable dust. We compare the results to the Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants.
Respirable dust consists of the subset of inhalable dust particles that are small enough to enter deep into the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange occurs.
Most respirable dust is removed by white blood cells in the lungs. However, if too much respirable dust enters the lungs, it can overwhelm the body’s defencesystem. These particles can accumulate in the lung tissues, causing scarring and inflammation over time. This can lead to conditions including:
- chronic bronchitis
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Respirable particles are normally too fine to see, except in specific lighting conditions.
Airsafe conducts air monitoring in accordance with AS 2985-2009 Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of respirable dust. We compare the results to the Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants.
Dust risk identification and control
Work health and safety regulations require employers, in consultation with workers, to identify hazards, assess risks and implement practical controls to protect workers’ health and safety.
If monitoring shows that inhalable or respirable dust poses a risk to your workers, Airsafe can help you manage that risk.
We can also help you develop an exposure assessment strategy and implement regulatory requirements.
Do I need dust monitoring?
Dust monitoring is useful during construction activities that are likely to generate dust, including site preparation and ground level construction works. You may also need to monitor wheel-generated dust from construction vehicles and equipment, or wind-generated dust from exposed surfaces.
Dust monitoring may be carried out:
- to ensure construction activities don’t generate excessive dust
- to ensure any agreed mitigation measures are being applied and are effective
- to alert you to increased dust emissions
- to provide a body of evidence in the event of complaints
- to help to attribute dust to specific activities so you can take appropriate action
How does Airsafe carry out dust monitoring?
Continuous Particle Monitoring
Airsafe is equipped with The DustTrak™ II Aerosol Monitor 8530, a desktop battery-operated, data-logging, light-scattering laser photometer that gives real-time aerosol mass readings.
The DustTrak II uses a sheath air system that isolates the aerosol in the optics chamber to keep the optics clean for improved reliability and low maintenance. It is suitable for every environment from clean offices to harsh industrial workplaces, construction and environmental sites, and other outdoor applications. It measures a large range of aerosol contaminants including dust, smoke, fumes, and mists.
Dust Deposition Gauges
Airsafe has the capability to provide dust deposition gauges. This method measures dust deposition rate and involves the passive deposition and capture of dust within a funnel and bottle arrangement.
Data is usually collected over monthly periods and results are expressed in g/m2/month.This method enables determination of the relative ‘dustiness’ of sampling locations.
All dust deposition gauge monitoring conducted by Airsafe is compliant with the Australian standard AS 3580.10.1 Methods for Sampling and Analysis of Ambient Air Method 10.1: Determination of Particulate Matter-Deposited Matter-Gravimetric Method.