An introduction to dust monitoring
As employers, we have a responsibility to make sure our people are protected at work. This includes dust monitoring, as some particles can be harmful to a worker’s health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles, leading to the inhalation of hazardous particulate matter, such as silica dust. As decision makers and employers, we can work to significantly reduce this number.
How? By employing modern safety technology for dust monitoring.
Effective particulate monitoring procedures and units can help us to protect not only the lives of our people, but the financial future of our businesses. We’re going to explain the fundamentals of dust monitoring and particulate matter.
Dust monitoring jargon
Here’s a basic introduction to some common language around particulate matter and dust monitoring. These terms are what you’ll find across the industries and workplaces dealing with dust monitoring.
You can find a longer glossary of technology types, Air XD-specific terms, diseases and legislation in our Jargon Buster.
For now, the basics; size measurements in particulate monitoring:
- µm – This is the unit of measurement used to describe the size of an individual particle i.e. 1µm (or a micron/micrometre) = 1 millionth of a meter. For example, a human hair is typically around 60µm diameter.
- PM (Particulate Matter) – a mix of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air to form. PM10 refers to all particles of 10µm and below in a sample. Our engineering team mocked up a quick graph that may be easier to understand. It is common practice for legislation to monitor PM1, PM2.5, PM4.25 and PM10 in particular.
- nm – This is short for nanometre, for particulate sizes which are smaller than 1µm. For example, when we say the Air XD’s range starts at 0.38µm, this is expressed as 380nm in nanometres.
- Ug/m³ – A measurement of particulate matter present in a given amount of cubic air – the measurement most frequently used by legislation bodies and policies.
- TSP (Total Suspended Particulates) – a regulatory measurement of the total mass concentration of particulate matter in a concentration of air or liquid.
What Is Dust Monitoring?
Simply, dust monitoring is detecting and assessing the particulate matter (or PM) in the air. This particulate matter is a mix of liquid droplets and solid particles in the air, which is monitored by concentration and size. Once known, controls can be implemented to reduce the risk of inhalation before severe consequences arise.
Each work environment is different, so there are various options on safety technologies for particular monitoring. They provide different levels of accuracy and depth, so there’s a solution for every situation, environment and organisation.
One such solution, like the Air XD, is a modern dust monitor providing in-depth detail of particulate matter in the air. It covers a wide-spectrum of potentially hazardous substances.
Why do we need dust monitoring?
Dust monitoring is important for several reasons. Not only is compliance with the law a big part of this, but good dust monitoring products, like the Air XD or the XD One, will reduce the risk of illness, such as lung cancer or silicosis, and save a lot of lives.
From a business point of view, workers suffering from illness are less productive and need to be replaced more often. This increases training costs, and there’s no guarantee that productivity won’t drop. Protection against potential litigation claims are also a factor to consider.
Invest in good systems and training and any business will be in a better position in the long term.
Dangers of dust inhalation
Respirable dust is the invisible killer that no-one is talking about. This infographic demonstrates the effect of each particulate on the human body and provides examples of each, so you know what to look out for and what those effects look like in reality.
Long-term exposure to some of the most dangerous respirable particulates <2µm could lead to life-threatening diseases like silicosis, COPD, Black Lung Disease and lung cancers.
If you’d like to know more about dust monitoring, it’s advantages and how to get started with the right systems, get in touch with a member of our team now.