AIR XS Silica Monitor: Not just another particle counter

Launched in 2022, the AIR XS Silica Monitor isn’t like other silica monitors on the market. If you’ve been in the Health and Safety space, it’s likely you’ll know about Optical Particle Counter (OPC), also known as “light-scattering”; but our patented AIR XS isn’t just another OPC.

Unlike traditional Optical Particle Counters (OPCs) that rely on light scattering and interruptions to deduce particle size and quantity, the patented Optical Refraction Technology (ORT) used in the AIR XS shines a laser through each particle, capturing its refraction on multiple sensors.

In our blog below, we reference Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon to explain one way to how ORT works. It’s not exact by any means but the refraction of the light coming out of the prism shows an example of how light refracts, similar to a crystalline particle.

Get in touch

If you’d like a more in-depth look at how real-time data can contribute to reducing instances of occupational silicosis, then be sure to check out check out our white paper: How real-time data could be the beginning of the end for occupational silicosis.

Otherwise, if you operate in challenging environments where you know RCS is present, and want to protect your workforce, then you can get in touch to request a demonstration with one of our experts or find a local approved distributor.

TROLEX INSPIRES NEW APPG PERSPECTIVE ON RESPIRATORY HEALTH

In 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Respiratory Health (APPG) issued the report “Silica, the next asbestos?”, which examined the disproportionate effect of silica dust to construction workers’ lives. 

Since the publication of that report, the APPG were contacted by a number of experts on the subject matter, who highlighted the advances in risk reduction and the particularly promising rise of real-time dust and silica monitoring technology. 

“Trolex believe that the most obvious and immediate benefit of real-time monitoring is in improving safety for those potentially exposed to silica in the workplace.” 

The new, revised report, titled “Improving Silicosis Outcomes in the UK” also explored these new silicosis prevention strategies, including some input from Trolex on the subject matter. From this, the APPG raised several clinical and regulatory recommendations to protect workers from the dangers of occupational silicosis going forward. 

“We recommend that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assesses and determines the data and technology needed to allow the UK to reduce the WEL for work with silica to 0.05mg/m3.” 

The recommendations from the APPG’s report indicate a number of changes need to be made in order to improve safety across all UK industries which use silica. These recommendations focus on both ways to prevent exposure to dangerous Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) in the workplace, including improvements in education, real-time monitoring and reducing exposure limits, as well as improving health and support for those who currently suffer with silicosis. 

“We recommend that the HSE actively considers and consults with industry on the positions of real-time monitoring to complement the hierarchy of control.” 

A personal perspective from a retired stonemason and silicosis patient.

In this exclusive interview with Trolex, Gordon Sommerville shares his first-hand experience of the dangers of silica exposure and what you can do to protect yourself and others from the dangers of silica dust. 

“The only cure for dusty diseases at the moment is not to let dust get inside the body, which means in order for silica induced diseases to be classed as 100% preventable, awareness of the hazard throughout the exposed population is required.”

Gordon, now a retired stonemason, was diagnosed with silicosis in 2015. He started his career working in the construction industry after leaving school in 1976 and soon became a stonemason and builder to trade. In such an environment, working on projects both large and small throughout his career, dust was everywhere.

“No matter what type of work I was carrying out or who I was working for, daily dust was involved — and lots of it. I did not realise dust was making me ill but during my career there were little clues which should have raised a red flag.”

Gordon’s aim in sharing his story is to inform, educate and highlight the dangers of exposure to silica dust and to give advice to individuals who work in similar industries on how to avoid the issues that he now faces as a result of silicosis. 









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    Revolutionary smart devices to future-proof health and safety

    Protecting the health and safety of the people who work for you is the ethical thing to do. It also makes good business sense as your people are your greatest asset. 

    But even if you aren’t driven by a moral or financial imperative, governments around the world are toughening up on the legislation that protects workers, so it’s not something any business can afford to ignore. 

    While some threats are obvious, others are invisible and incredibly hard to accurately detect, such as the deadly silica dust that are the by-product of many industries and manufacturing processes.  

    Silica dust is linked with severe health problems. It has been dubbed the ‘new asbestos’ and has already been the subject of litigation. Yet it’s something that has historically been impossible to monitor in real time. 

    Our Construction Industry Health and Safety Survey Winter 2021 shows that employers are concerned about safety, with nine out of 10 respondents recognising that worker safety is important or very important. 

    But it also revealed that on the ground it can be hard to meet the health and safety challenge, particularly when it comes to dust monitoring, which for a fifth of respondents accounted for half of their safety budget. 

    This in-depth report looks at how real-time, wearable dust monitoring technology can help to solve the issues from the findings of the Construction Industry Health and Safety Survey Winter 2021. 

    The findings ultimately mean that it’s clear we need a new approach to dust monitoring. One that looks to the future and is inspired by the intelligent tech revolutionising every other aspect of our lives.  

    It’s time to act now to tackle danger of hazardous dusts, like silica dust, by investing in smarter solutions to protect the air we breathe, with real-time dust monitoring. 

    Combatting occupational silicosis: This is personal

    ***

    What might seem like a nine-year journey to develop the Trolex AIR XS Silica Monitor actually goes back 150 years. Our new real-time silica detection technology has surprising origins… 

    It starts at a time when miners had next to no protection, especially from harmful silica dust, and to a place that ‘roofed the world’; Snowdonia’s beautiful, bleak, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

    Hear from Glyn Jones

    The dangers of silica dust to the human body are not completely unknown, and at Trolex, this knowledge started our 150 year journey to develop a solution to the threat of silicosis.

    Here’s what Trolex CEO, Glyn Pierce-Jones, had to say about how combining our expert knowledge of dangerous particulates with personal experience of working with silica dust led us to our mission to combat silicosis and why it was so important to us.

    UNESCO Heritage status

    Recently awarded UNESCO heritage status, it was here that my grandfathers, great grandfathers, uncles, and cousins all worked, mining slate. 

    Arawn and Ieuan. Dai and Dewi. Merfyn and Maldwyn.

    And it’s here that many of them died, often as young as in their 40s, from occupational silicosis.

    No health and safety. No silica detection and prevention. No chance.

    Personal and poignant

    It makes the work we do at Trolex all the more personal and all the more poignant.

    And it’s a major part of the reason we’ve worked so hard to solve the age-old problem of occupational silicosis. 

    So that modern-day miners and quarry workers – in fact, anyone who might come into contact with silica in their working lives, from construction workers to plasterers, factory workers and stonemasons – will never have to suffer the same fate as my forefathers. 

    A new hope

    And all it took was vision and ingenuity, optimism and grit, and endless trips to the bank manager. And despite being told we’d never do it – we’ve done it.

    New real-time dust monitoring technology that offers new hope to people who previously had no hope of avoiding an unnecessary, painful and premature end to their lives caused by occupational lung diseases.

    It’s called the AIR XS Silica Monitor

    And it’s astonishing.

    The world’s first real-time silica detection technology saving lives all over the world – made of legends.

    As they used to say in the back bar at the Miners Inn in Blaenau…

    Dyma i chi fechgyn!*

    Drop me a line and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the AIR XS Silica Monitor and the many ways it can benefit your staff and your business.

    *Here’s to you, boys!









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      Staggering lung disease statistics prompt urgent £5 million investment

      New studies from charity ‘Asthma and Lung UK’ (ALUK) found that lung disease deaths in the UK are the highest in Western Europe.

      The staggering statistics have prompted an expanded approach towards research and development of lung diseases from ALUK.

       

      Serious Statistics

      ALUK’s studies show that cases of lung disease related deaths in the UK have been on the rise for the past 20 years.

      It is reported that 500,000 people in the UK died from deaths relating to lung diseases over a seven-year period.

      In 2018 alone, 84,721 respiratory deaths were recorded in the UK.

      The charity has described the state of lung health in the UK as ‘shameful’, stating the need for improved research and development solutions to the problem.

      More than just numbers

      After its relaunch in February, ALUK established a new five-year strategy upon the results of the study.

      Lung diseases are currently the third most common cause of death in the UK and it’s currently costing the NHS £9 billion every year.

      Despite this, lung-related health care is receiving less than 2% of public funding.

      Dispelling the misconceptions

      It is evident that the seriousness of lung problems in relation to other diseases is not taken as seriously, despite what we are seeing from the data.

      A predominant factor in the poor state of the nation’s lung health is that people believe lung conditions aren’t life-threatening. This is a major misconception.

      Through spreading awareness of how ‘shameful’ lung health is in the UK, this misconception can be dispelled.

      ALUK aim to reduce lung disease deaths by 20% by 2027. When making everyone aware of these gruesome statistics, this can become a possibility.

      The end goal is to provide support for everyone effected by all forms of lung disease.

      Research and innovation as a solution

      ALUK’s solution to achieving this goal is through research and innovation.

      Their aim is to expand their research and innovation programme so that £5 million is being invested into relevant research each year.

      With the aim to develop at least three new self-management tools” for 2 million people suffering with lung diseases, ALUK want to make training programmes and essential advice easily accessible to those who need it.

      “By 2027, we will give 80% of people with lung conditions the opportunity to access our network of Breathe Easy support groups” states the ALUK Strategy to 2027.

      With this, the strain on public healthcare is minimised and individuals are able to monitor their personal health through digitalised platforms and shared networks.

      Looking to the future…

      The statistics right now make for harrowing reading and harsh truths.

      However, for ALUK, research and innovation is the solution for the future. By identifying the problem and acknowledging its severity and scale, goals can be achieved.

      Through effective research and innovation lung disease deaths can become a thing of the past, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

      Collaborative expertise towards a common goal for occupational health

      Trolex are excited to be partnered with Active Environmental Solutions (AES), working together to protect workers from the dangerous and often irreversible consequences of occupational lung diseases caused by dust inhalation.

      With AES’s specialist knowledge of occupational health and safety in Australian industries and Trolex’s leading safety technology, the opportunity of delivering solutions to prevent the dangers of dust inhalation for Australian workers, is not just a possibility, but now a reality.

      Offering the market innovative solutions

      AES want to spread awareness of the dangers of occupational lung diseases caused by dust inhalation. And in the case of dust monitoring, spreading awareness that new real-time dust monitoring technology to help prevent lethal occupational respiratory diseases now exists.

      The opportunity to partner with Trolex was welcomed by AES, as it means that they can merge their expertise in occupational health using Trolex’s leading safety technology.

      This creates the best solutions to their respective industries.

      This simple message appealed to AES, and to Aleks Todorovic MSc, (OHP), Managing Director of AES’s team of Australian Occupational Safety experts at AES, as it aligned perfectly with the workers they seek to protect:

      Many businesses intuitively know the benefit of a broad threat detection – they just don’t know they know it, or perhaps how they go about implementing such devices – it’s our job to awaken that knowledge and show them there are new and effective dust detection technologies such as the Trolex AIR XD Dust Monitor, the XD ONE Personal Dust Monitor and most recently, the AIR XS Silica Monitor.  

      Important facts for important industries

      There are no arm twisting, or heavy sales techniques involved. Just a clear and simple presentation of responding to the facts.

      Which is why Trolex and AES are working hard to provide further education to Australia’s mining, tunnelling, quarrying and construction industries, where workers are exposed to dangerous forms of respirable dusts.

      This common goal of providing and expert knowledge and specialist equipment to these industries is the drive needed to inevitably reduce instances of occupational lung diseases to save lives.

      Now, this collaboration will help to do exactly that.

      A needed change of approach

      The approach taken by businesses within these industries must now change. With new legislation on exposure to harmful dust in Australia, new dust monitoring methods are needing to be implemented.

      Aleks said “As an occupational hygiene-minded business we know only too well the devastating effects inhaling respirable dusts can have on people’s long-term health.

      That’s why we’re invested in the success and distribution of new and effective real-time dust monitoring technologies such as the Trolex AIR XD Dust Monitor, the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor and the AIR XS Silica Monitor. These are lifesaving technologies that need to be included in their safety thinking” stated Aleks further.

      By using Trolex’s advanced dust monitoring technologies, small changes can have a huge impact.

      Looking towards the future

      As the war on silica dust grows ever stronger by the day, more needs to be done.

      With the reduction in exposure limits coming into effect across Australia, particularly hard on respirable crystalline silica (RCS), real-time monitoring for silica dust is a necessity, retaining live data and providing an instant alarm the legislated threshold is breached.

      Whilst the ability to retrospectively assess levels of silica dust in facilities is available to industries where deadly silica dust is prevalent, the ability to monitor for silica dust in real time is not.

      Trolex’s all new real-time silica monitor, the AIR XS, allows for accurate and reliable results demonstrating compliance with legislation. Aleks commented on this world-first technology:

      We are really excited to be a part of this project to be able to detect silica in real time. This will be the world’s first monitor to have this capability and we’re proud to be distributing it throughout Australia. The project was produced with the support of the Centre for Work Health and Safety in NSW proving just how important and potentially life-saving the new technology will be.”

      And with the talk of real-time, wearable silica monitoring devices a possibility in the future, of course it makes perfect sense for all industries to be increasingly focused on detection possibilities.

      Together, Trolex and AES are providing real solutions for real problems in Australia.

      If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about integrating real-time dust monitoring technology into your working environment, then you can use the contact form below to get in touch with one of our experts today.

      Silica monitoring technology:
      Not what it
      used to be?

      Silica dust is a problem. A serious problem. In particular, respirable crystalline silica (RCS) – the minute respirable silica dust particles released when working with concrete, bricks, mortar, ceramics, MDF, plywood, stone, ceramics and other similar materials.

      Invisible to the naked eye, and 100 times smaller than sand, RCS is fine enough to reach deep inside the lungs. Once there, it causes long term and often fatal damage through silicosis, heart failure, arthritis, kidney disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and even lung cancer.

      In the UK, the IOSH reports that half a million workers are exposed to RCS. It contributes to 12,000 lung disease deaths a year – mostly among workers employed in construction or the manufacturing of products for construction.

      And RCS isn’t a secret. It’s an acknowledged threat. The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) recognises it as ‘the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos’ and The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Respiratory Health have released a damning report Silica – the next asbestos’.

      The main challenge in combating its dangers is the inherent nature of silica dust itself. The fact that it’s so small, and that as minute shards of irregularly shaped quartz, it’s so hard to detect. The small scale of the particles has made real-time RCS monitoring incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive – which makes the scale of the problem even larger.

      Silica Monitoring is a Big Problem

      Typically, exposure monitoring for RCS has involved occupational hygienists setting up fixed location or wearable instrumentation, including a pump connected to a sampling head that collects samples on a filter. These samples are then sent off to a lab for analysis.

      This exposure reporting is then used to determine whether control measures are effective or not and whether an area is safe to work in.

      That’s clearly far from ideal.

      Analysis is retrospective, reporting on working environments long after workers may already have been exposed to potentially lethal amounts of RCS and is inherently inaccurate. Also, because analysis needs to be carried out by H&S professionals, costs can quickly rocket, with analysis often totalling thousands of pounds a month – and that’s just per survey!

      The Future of Silica Monitoring

      All of this makes the prospect of accurate, affordable, real-time RCS monitoring something of a “Holy Grail” when it comes to protecting workers from this deadly dust.

      A Holy Grail that, with strong rumours of a significant breakthrough in silica monitoring soon to hit the market, we’re set to revolutionise RCS detection and the health and safety industry. Eventually, protecting countless workers from unnecessary exposure to potentially lethal silica.

      Imagine that. No more clunky, costly, after-the-event analysis and guesswork. Just accurate, affordable, real-time silica monitoring – which will be available in just a few short months.

      Curious?

      As they say… watch this space.

      Get in touch with one of our experts today to discuss how the AIR XS Silica Monitor can improve your safety processes.