This article describes a study that was carried out at two electroplating shops to investigate the levels of personal exposure to inhalable nickel-containing aerosols and the impact of introducing new personal sampling instrumentation with performance consistent with the latest criteria proposed by the International Standards Organisation, the Comite Europeen Normalisation, and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Experiments were carried out to investigate the effect of changing from the current widely used method for total aerosol (using the closed-face, 37-mm filter holder) to a new method for inhalable aerosol (using the IOM inhalable aerosol sampler). The results showed that measured inhalable aerosol exposures—for both overall aerosol and total nickel— were consistently and significantly higher than the corresponding measured total aerosol exposures. Weighted least-squares linear regression yielded biases for one company ranging from about 1.3 to 2.5 and for the other company ranging from 2.8 to 3.7, depending on the parts of the plants where measurements were conducted. The results of speciation analysis on some samples showed that water-soluble forms of nickel were predominant, but that the proportion of soluble nickel varied significantly between the two shops. The results of experiments like those described here are important as the international industrial hygiene community moves toward new aerosol standards based on the inhalable fraction (as defined in the latest ACGIH threshold limit values booklet).
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