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.

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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    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.

    How does the ‘Psychological Contract’ relate to dust monitoring?

    Have you heard of the ‘psychological contract’? It’s the unwritten understanding of the interaction between you, your workplace environment and your colleagues.  

    We all have a psychological contract with our employers, whether we know it or not.

    As well as considering the physical aspects of your work environment, your psychological contract includes things like the quality of relationships you have with the people you work with, whether you feel properly listened to and understood and know what’s expected of you in your role. 

    An important part of that contract is ‘psychological safety’. How safe or unsafe your psychological contract leaves you feeling at work.  

    ‘Psychological Safety’

    A term coined in 1999 by organisational behavioural scientist, Amy Edmondson, ‘psychological safety’ includes things like trust in your colleagues, your perception of physical threat in your working environment and how you feel about the training and support you get to do your job.  

    Unsurprisingly, the safer people feel at work, both physically and emotionally, the more productive they are.  

    By the same token, if people feel unsafe, then not only are they less productive, but the time the trouble and expense of having to replace people unhappy in their jobs is huge.  

    Employee benefits provider Perkbox estimates that ‘disengaged employees are costing the UK economy £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.’ 

    So how can you make sure that people in your organisation feel psychologically safe?  

    Physical Safety First

    The first important step in creating a psychologically safe workplace is to make it as physically safe as possible.  

    Speaking with Trolex, Occupational Psychologist Catherine Dobson told us, “If an environment is not physically safe, if it’s too hot, too cold, or if it feels too dangerous people feel stressed. We must ask ourselves how do we get the right environment for people with the right kind of training, the right kind of cooperation to make it healthier? 

    Which is what contributes to making our range of dust monitors, such an important development. These include the AIR XD Dust Monitor, the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor – our wearable dust monitoring technology, and our AIR XS Silica Monitor for real-time silica dust monitoring. 

    Not simply because it protects workers from the physical dangers of inhaling lethal respirable dusts, but because armed with the knowledge that they are working safely, people feel psychologically safer too.  

    Catherine explains how: “In relation to silica and dust monitoring. Because the AIR XS Silica Monitor is new, there’s scope for demonstrating that it works. And people can see that.  

    Also, because all these dust monitors work in real time, it gives people the trust that an intervention will take place should they be in danger. They can trust in the environment being safe.” 

    A very good thing for workers on both a physical and emotional level.  

    And great news, too, for the mining, tunnelling, quarrying, manufacturing and construction companies invested in fulfilling their side of the psychological contract with advanced dust monitoring. 

    Businesses can then reap the rewards of improved production and better worker retention, so everybody wins. 

     

    XD ONE vs other dust monitors on the market

    An independent UK agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain, carried out a series of tests on three XD One Portable Dust Monitor units. 

    They compared them to the following dust monitors: Casella CEL-712 Microdust Pro, a Thermo Scientific MIE Personal DataRam (pDR) 1500, a TSI SidePak AM510. 

    The key elements of the testing were as follows: 

    • Tests were carried out in a calm air chamber. 
    • The tests used Arizona road dust, the industry standard for accuracy measurements and calibration. 
    • Fixed Concentration tests were performed at 2 mg/m³, 5 mg/m³ and 11 mg/m³. 
    • Stepped Concentration tests were performed moving from 2 mg/m³ to 5 mg/m³ and finally to 11 mg/m³. 
    • Simultaneous readings were taken using laboratory grade gravimetric sampling (TIOM and GK 2.69) to provide baseline accurate data from which to compare the portable units.

    The results from the independent testing demonstrated that the XD ONE performs better than other personal dust monitors on the market. There were five critical messages from the testing as outlined below: 

    • The XD ONE performs as well as or better than the rival products in accurately monitoring for respirable dust. 
    • The tests found that the XD ONE unit’s performance was consistent between the XD ONE units, demonstrating that the good performance was consistent and repeatable. 
    • The XD ONE was consistent with laboratory grade gravimetric sampling units (the current industry standard, and often regulated methodology) at the tested dust levels. 
    • The XD ONE also performed as well or better than competitor products in ‘stepped-tests’ where the dust concentration was changed over time. 
    • The XD ONE is smaller, lighter, less fiddly and a single self-contained unit. 

    XD ONE: The leading portable dust monitor on the market

    It’s one thing claiming to design, develop and manufacture the world’s most accurate, easy to maintain, and best value wearable dust monitoring device – which we do.

    But substantiating that claim?

    Backing it up with the facts, with independent verifiable research? Field testing our device and comparing it like-for-like with other similar products to prove our point – is that even possible?

    It certainly is.

    We can prove that the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor is the world’s leading wearable dust monitoring system.

    Courtesy of The HSE – a completely independent UK Government compliance body and one of the leading organisations of its type in the world – who recently completed a series of dust monitoring tests.

    Their tests compared three XD ONE units (to capture a reliable spread of results) with three other commercially available personal dust monitors. 

    • The Casella CEL-712 Microdust Pro
    • The ThermoScientific MIE Personal DataRam (pDR) 1500
    • The TSI SidePak AM510

    To measure the mean respirable and inhalable dust concentrations, two gravimetric samplers were also tested against the Trolex XD ONE – The GK 2.69 cyclone (BGI by Mesa Labs) and the IOM inhalable sampler (SKC Inc.).

    Using Arizona Road Dust, the preferred type of dust for dust monitor trials, testing was undertaken in a 1 m x 1 m x 3 m calm air chamber, at three different dust concentrations – low 2 mg/m³, medium 5 mg/m3, and high 11 mg/m3.

    Fixed concentration tests

    At the medium and highest concentrations, the test lasted for 60 minutes. At the lowest concentration, the test lasted for 120 minutes to make sure enough dust was sampled by the gravimetric samplers to achieve a reliable reading.

    Stepped concentration tests

    Dust concentration was tested in three steps (20 minutes at each stage) from the lowest to the highest. Once at the maximum, the concentration was stepped back down to zero at the same rate.

    Head to Head Headline Test Results

    In a word… impressive

    1. The XD ONE performs as well as, or better than, all rival products in the accurate monitoring for respirable dust (PM 4.25) test at typical workplace concentrations of 5 mg/m³ and below. With official Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL) allowing a maximum of 4 mg/m³ exposure at any time, it’s these concentrations that really matter in terms of real-world monitoring.
    2. The XD ONE’s performance was both consistent, repeatable and aligned with the best of the gravimetric sampling units (the current industry standard/methodology) at these dust levels.
    3. The XD ONE also performed as well or better than competitor products in the ‘stepped-tests’.

    Independent HSE tests prove the XD One is the leading wearable dust monitor on the market

    Saving lives and protecting workers’ health by preventing dust inhalation is a serious business. And so too is putting our technology and our reputation on the line against much bigger and better funded competitors, and vastly more expensive products. 

    The HSE testing provided a clear endorsement of our ‘marker leader’ claim.  But it went further still. Taking into account the XD ONE’s size and weight, cost, ease of set up and ease of maintenance, the tests underlined its practical, performance and competitive advantages in the most emphatic terms. 

    The results speak for themselves.

    When faced with a rational decision between the XD ONE and a competing product – the  choice is crystal clear. You’d choose the XD ONE every time.

    Working with distributors and partners overseas is how we gain exclusive access to the businesses that need our products to save the lives of their employees.

    We value our close partners as much as our own employees and have good relationships that last way beyond the business transaction. This includes trusting our partners to demonstrate our new technology to their customers, in mutual understanding, so our partners and their customers can get ‘up close and personal’ to our XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor and can try it out for themselves in a real-life environment.

    Our Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg (BeNeLux) distributor, BASystemen, ordered six XD ONE demo units to give to their customers to trial. They landed a few days ago, and their directors are already behind our campaign to get these monitors into the hands of every worker who needs one, and to start saving lives straight away.

    Khoa Nguyen is a keen advocate of field trails, and comments ‘we love feedback!’ He intends to lend them out to his customers so they can ‘try out all functionalities’.

    The dust monitors themselves have been met with great praise and Khoa says, ‘We truly believe that the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor  is a nice solution to the market needs for a portable dust monitor, which is simple to use, reliable and cost effective’. He adds, “…size is great, weight is perfect and very easy to use.”

    Khoa is happy with our partnership, and concludes by saying, “Response is quick and partner conditions are good so both parties benefit long term” and suggests that as a company, BASystemen can “definitely learn from this.”

    If you’re a distributor and would like to request demo units of the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor, please get in touch today.

    Dust monitoring technology averts the threat of occupational lung diseases

    The threat is averted with dust monitoring technology

    As if the known dangers of exposure to harmful respirable dusts weren’t bad enough, new research is showing that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with a far wider range of diseases and highlights the importance of particulate monitoring.

    Not only are 1.4 million people in the UK reporting ‘lung or breathing problems that were caused or made worse by work,’ and 12,000 people dying every year due to occupational lung diseases, evidence is mounting to show that airborne pollution also causes dementia, strokes and skin cancer.

    The study, conducted in the USA and first published in the journal Stroke is titled “Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure“.

    Examining the brains of more than 900 people over 60 years old, it revealed that long-term exposure to fine dust causes both brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) and leads to an increased risk of stroke and other disease.

    Implications for business, too.

    Not only is this news alarming for those who live near busy roads, it also draws attention to the added dangers faced by those working in conditions, and with materials, they may have previously thought safe. 

    For example, welders, who, despite now using supposedly less dangerous materials and working in spaces where local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is employed, seem to be vulnerable to a far wider range of illnesses than previously thought.

    As the report highlighted, even limited exposure of fine dust particles can lead to the heightened risk of cerebrovascular disease and cognitive impairment.

    Benjamin Howell on the Fabricator.com says, ‘at the nanolevel, invisible to the human eye, the concentration of particulate matter can pose a great risk to welders. Studies show that welding fume particulates are mostly smaller than 0.1 micrometer, which makes nearly all welding fume particles respirable. They can penetrate deep into the alveolate region of the lungs during inhalation and remain firmly fixed there.’ 

    It’s not all bad news though.

    The first step towards change: Recognise you have a problem.

    By revealing far greater and far wider reaching dangers than previously acknowledged, the new research means the important issue of how best to protect people from damaging dusts is getting the attention it deserves. 

    The sheer weight of evidence amassing from the likes of The Journal of Cleaner Production, The British Medical Journal, and Harvard is forcing the hand of governments, regulatory bodies and employers. The necessary steps to protect not just their workers, but every one of us exposed to dangerous airborne pollutants, are being considered and taken. This includes controls, sensors and dust detectors, among other things.

    A preemptive strike on harm with dust detectors.

    What if a threat could be detected before it even became a threat? What if you could be alerted to the presence of even the smallest of damaging airborne dusts before they had the chance to damage health?

    Leading H&S expert John Cairns says:

    “The best thing is to detect the hazard before you’re exposed to the hazard. Before you’re exposed to the hazard or a high concentration. You can get the hell out of there, or with the way this new technology works you can set off ventilation systems to clear the area.

    The whole ethos behind the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to reduce the risk to as low as is reasonably practicable. I think the XD ONE Portable Dust Monitor is adding to that – it’s enhancing the safety system.”

    Learn more about real-time dust monitoring

    Real-time dust monitoring is an effective way at reducing the risk to workers in hazardous working environments. When combined with RPE, PPE and other equipment, the threats from dust and particle inhalation are reduced drastically. This has a big impact on worker health, morale and productivity.

    Send us a message today to find out more about our work to help organisations like yours protect your people from the threat of damaging dust particles with sensors, dust detectors and systems tailored to your work environment.

    2.12 billion reasons to look after your staff and customers

    A sign of things to come.

    Despite the protests of Johnson and Johnson, who played the indignation card at a “fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts.”

    The verdict is “[at] odds with decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer,” they quibble.

    $2.12 billion in damages tells another story.

    That’s what a Missouri court ordered Johnson and Johnson pay to women suffering ovarian cancer caused by asbestos in its baby powder and other talc products. Litigation that looks like just the beginning.

    Not just for Johnson and Johnson, who now face21,800 lawsuits claiming that its talc products cause cancer because of contamination from asbestos, a known carcinogen,’ but also for the many employers the world over who fail to properly protect their workers from preventable disease.

    Preventable disease

    Sarah Jardine, HSE’s chief inspector of construction says: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.”

    In the UK alone, 14,000 people a year die prematurely from largely preventable disease caused by the inhalation of respirable dust in the workplace.

    Preventable because there’s no excuse for remaining ignorant of the potentially fatal consequences of exposure to dangerous microscopic airborne dust particles.

    If you’re serious about running a business you need to be serious about protecting your people

    While lack of awareness has certainly been a problem in the past, now, with plenty of readily available research, public health messaging and examples of high-profile litigation, there’s simply no reason for companies to ignore their responsibilities,

    Especially following new advances in dust measurement technology.

    So not only is ignorance (still) an illegitimate excuse, with new real-time dust monitoring technology that provides you and your workers with real time and highly accurate dust readings in any working environment, so, too, is blaming a lack of suitable technology.

    Put simply, if you’re serious about running a business you need to be serious about  protecting people from the dangers of dust inhalation that surround them. Serious about both understanding those dangers  and then putting the measures in place to mitigate them.

    And as if the moral obligation wasn’t enough, the commercial implications are enormous, too; as Johnson and Johnson are discovering.

    The cost of complicity

    There’s more to worry about than the obvious bottom line legal costs and compensation. You need to consider the reputation costs in the form of lost business opportunities and even share price, insurance premium hikes, loss of production or reduced output, sickness cover and pay, and the lack of future legal and financial protections. All the many, undesirable and inevitable consequences of being exposed as negligent. The last thing any business needs or wants.

    All you need to know…

    Are you still unclear about the extensive danger of dust? Or do you already realise the danger, want to do something about it but are unsure how real-time dust monitoring technology can help you?

    Either way feel free to get in touch. We’ll tell you the many ways that we help businesses across all sorts of sectors, all over the world. Everything you need to know about protecting your workers from the threat of disease, and your business from the threat of litigation. And all its damaging implications.