This paper describes a study that was carried out at work sites in the primary nickel production industry to investigate the difference between inhalable and 'total' aerosol exposures by using the mannequin sampling method, and to compare the results with those from an earlier study where actual workers' personal exposures were assessed in the same way. Experiments were carried out at 21 work sites located in mining, milling, smelting, and refining works of two primary nickel production companies. During sampling, mannequins were used to simulate the physical presence of workers and the 'exposures' of these were obtained for strategic positions at selected work sites. The orientations of each mannequin with respect to the wind were rotated through 90° every hour in order to simulate the approximate orientation-averaging corresponding to actual workers. Two samplers were placed side-by-side on each mannequin: the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) inhalable aerosol sampler, and the 37-mm plastic cassette widely used as a personal sampler for 'total' aerosol. Each collected sample was analyzed to obtain both overall dust and overall nickel content. A total of 116 such sample pairs were collected. The results show that inhalable aerosol exposure levels-for both overall dust and for total nickel content-were consistently and significantly higher than the corresponding total aerosol exposure levels. Weighted least squares linear regression yielded (inhalable/'total') aerosol ratios ranging from 1.38 to 3.90 and 1.20 to 4.01, respectively, for overall dust and for total nickel content for different work sites. Comparison of these results with those from the earlier study of actual workers' personal exposures were in good agreement for most of the work sites studies. However, the actual intensities of exposure using the mannequin sampling method were consistently lower than those obtained from actual workers' personal sampling in our earlier study. The consistency of the (inhalable/'total') ratios between mannequin and actual personal sampling strongly suggests that the characteristics of the aerosol sampled by the two methods, most notably the particle size distribution, were the same. This in turn suggests that mannequin sampling can be useful in occupational hygiene for determining such properties of personal workers' exposures. It certainly provides a useful and cost effective method for determining factors at work sites in individual industry settings by which to examine the impact of changing exposure assessment from one based on 'total' aerosol to the recommended new approach based on inhalable aerosol.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health