New testing proves efficacy of real-time silica monitor that could save thousands of lives

New test findings released, confirm the efficacy of a world-first real-time monitor for silica dust, which represents a revolution in the protection for workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust.  

As a leading workplace safety technology company, we have developed the AIR XS Silica Monitor, designed to protect workers against lung diseases such as silicosis by providing real-time readings of levels of crystalline silica in the air.  

We have recently commissioned a leading occupational hygiene and laboratory testing organisation to conduct independent testing of the AIR XS. The results show the AIR XS repeatedly provided consistent, accurate, real-time data throughout an eight-hour testing period.  

The testing demonstrates that AIR XS can improve worker safety by providing instant information to businesses and workers exposed to RCS, instead of having to wait up to four weeks to know their level of exposure to this killer dust, which is the current industry standard.  

While the Australian Government recently implemented a ban on engineered stone, commencing 1 July 2024, the process most synonymous with creating silica dust, Group CEO Glyn Pierce-Jones said this ban alone would not solve the current health crisis caused by RCS.  

“Silica dust is found in most building materials, so while banning engineered stone is a positive step, it’s not a holistic solution. The real issue facing the industry is the current archaic methods of testing for silica dust and the delay it causes in creating the safest possible workplace.” 

The AIR XS is already being used in Australia to monitor RCS levels in many industrial locations. 

Silica occurs naturally in soil, sand and granite; however, it is almost harmless in that state. Once those materials have been disturbed through construction or mining, silica dust is generated and can be inhaled into the lungs. This dust can cause silicosis, and other types of lung diseases and cancer, which are often irreversible and progressive. 

Recent research from The Lung Foundation showed an estimated 600,000 Australian workers and between 40-50 million workers worldwide are exposed to silica dust across a wide range of industries including quarrying, construction, tunnelling, mining and many manufacturing processes. 

The current approach to test for RCS is gravimetric sampling, the process requires collection, processing, and laboratory analysis of the sample, which is both time-consuming and costly for businesses. Direct-reading instruments offer businesses the ability to monitor employee safety on sites in real-time, eliminating the delays of weeks typically associated with potential RCS exposure. 

Mr Pierce-Jones emphasised the urgent need for enhanced safety measures for anyone who may be in contact with silica.   

“The current testing methodology for RCS only allows users to take an average reading over an eight-hour period and typically takes up to four weeks to produce a result,” Mr Pierce-Jones said. 

“Our AIR XS Silica Monitor was designed to provide an accurate reading with immediate results, letting workers know when their health is in danger and allowing employers to respond in the most efficient manner.” 

“These latest test results are another indicator of what we already knew at Trolex – that the AIR XS could be part of a desperately needed solution to an urgent health crisis.”  

Request the full testing report

You can request the full independent AIR XS testing report by following the link below.

CAN DUST MONITORING TECHNOLOGY KEEP UP WITH NEW LEGISLATION?

As improved legislation is rolled out, will the dust and particulate detection technology be good enough to meet it?

Congratulations to the New South Wales Government for the foresight and resolution in driving through new legislation to protect workers from the hazards of silica, coal dust, and diesel particulates.

Speaking to Australian Mining, the state’s Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for resources John Barilaro said, “The decision to fast-track these more stringent standards for coal dust exposure was an easy one and is a great example of mine workers, mine operators and government working together to ensure we have robust frameworks in place to address this insidious disease.”

The legislation, which took effect from July 1st 2021, is hugely ambitious too. The legal exposure limit to respirable coal dust was reduced from 2.5 to 1.5 mg/m³ and respirable crystalline silica from 0.1 to 0.05 mg/m³. A new diesel exposure standard of 0.1  mg/m³ commenced 1 February 2021.

NSW leading the way

Compare the New South Wales Government’s to recent legislation in other parts of the world, and you can see how progressive the New South Wales Government has been. For example, in the United States where OSHA reduced the respirable crystalline silica permissible exposure limit (PEL) affecting the construction, manufacturing, and fracking industries from an allowable average of 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

In the UK, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) control measures need only be effective in keeping exposure below the Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) at the old NSW level of 0.1 mg/m³ respirable dust, averaged over eight hours.

With efforts underway to determine whether these levels might be made even more stringent, the good work is clearly an ongoing priority.

As The New South Wales Resources Regulator says in its compliance priority January-June 2021 report. ‘With the implementation of the revised exposure standards for silica and respirable dust, and a new exposure standard for diesel exhaust emissions, airborne contaminants was a priority project between July and December in 2020 and will continue to be a focus area.’

Legislation needs to be adhered to

But it’s one thing to bring new, more stringent particulate exposure regulations onto the statute book. It’s another matter altogether making sure they are adhered to.

For a start, guidance needs to be shared with business owners and operators to help them properly implement effective health control plans in the context of the new regulations.

And what about the technical implications? With legal limits (quite rightly) ever shrinking, how can businesses be absolutely confident that the technology they use onsite to measure exposure to harmful dust and particulates is accurate, realistically deployable and affordable?

With much of the legacy technology on the market anything but accurate, realistically deployable and affordable, clearly the challenge for technology companies is to step up and find new ways for industry to meet these new standards.

At Trolex we’ve been working tirelessly on meeting these challenges for years.

And now we have.

It’s called the Trolex real-time dust monitoring range of fixed and wearable dust monitors.

You might also call it an overnight 40-year success story, as we’ve turned our vast experience in environmental monitoring in mining and tunnelling, to designing, manufacturing and distributing world leading dust and particulate monitoring technology.

The Trolex real-time dust monitors

The Trolex AIR XD Dust Monitor and XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor are both designed to detect even the finest of particulates.

Fixed and wearable, real-time analysis of your working environment from the Trolex dust monitoring range giving you a crystal clear understanding of the real particulate threat you face.

Simple to deploy, easy to maintain and super accurate they deliver a practical and affordable way of protecting your workers AND remaining within the law.

Now, whatever the new legislation and however strictly it’s applied, you can be absolutely sure that you have the technology in place to meet all legal and regulatory responsibilities as well as lead a healthy, happy, motivated workforce.

Don’t take chances. Contact us now to find out more about how our AIR XD and XD ONE real-time dust monitoring products – accurate, simple to use, easy to maintain, real-time particulate detection technology can protect your workers in your hazardous environments.