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Estimating factors to convert Chinese "total dust" measurements to ACGIH respirable concentrations in metal mines and pottery industries.

Gao-P; Chen-W; Hearl-FJ; McCawley-MA; Schwerha-DJ; Odencrantz-J; Chen-W; Chen-J; Soderholm-SC
Ann Occup Hyg 2000 Jul; 44(4):251-257
Historical data on the dust exposures of Chinese workers in metal mines (iron/copper, tin, tungsten) and pottery industries are being used in an ongoing joint Chinese/United States epidemiological study to investigate the exposure-response relationship for the development of silicosis, lung cancer, and other diseases. The historical data include 'total dust' concentrations determined by a Chinese method. Information about particle size distribution and the chemical and mineralogical content of airborne particles is generally not available. In addition, the historical Chinese sampling strategy is different from a typical American eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) sampling strategy, because the Chinese samples were collected for approximately 15 minutes during production so the sample could be compared to their maximum allowable concentration (MAC) standard. Therefore, in order to assess American respirable dust exposure standards in light of the Chinese experience, factors are needed to convert historical Chinese total dust concentrations to respirable dust concentrations. As a part of the joint study to estimate the conversion factors, airborne dust samples were collected in 20 metal mines and 9 pottery factories in China during 1988 and 1989 using three different samplers: 10mm nylon cyclones, multi-stage 'cassette' impactors, and the traditional Chinese total dust samplers. More than 100 samples were collected and analysed for each of the three samplers. The study yielded two different estimates of the conversion factor from the Chinese total dust concentrations (measured during production processes) to respirable dust concentrations. The multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) reveals that, with a fixed sampling/analysis method, conversion factors were not statistically different among the different job titles within each industry. It also indicates that conversion factors among the industries were not statistically different. However, the two estimates consistently showed that conversion factors were the lowest in the pottery industry. Average conversion factors were then calculated for each of the estimates across the industries studied. A pooled mean conversion factor, 0.25+/-0.04, was then derived for all the job titles and industries. Respirable dust levels were estimated from the historical 'total dust' concentrations collected between 1952 and 1992 by adopting the American standard.
Mining-industry; Dust-exposure; Metal-mining; Pottery-industry; Pottery-workers-lung; Silicosis; Lung-cancer; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-infections; Airborne-particles; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Author Keywords: conversion factor; mining dust; exposure estimates; respirable dust; metal mines
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV
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Annals of Occupational Hygiene