A method has been described previously for determining particle size distributions in the inhalable size range collected by personal samplers for wood dust. In this method, the particles collected by a sampler are removed, suspended, and re-deposited on a mixed cellulose-ester filter, and examined by optical microscopy to determine particle aerodynamic diameters. This method is particularly appropriate to wood-dust particles which are generally large and close to rectangular prisms in shape. The method was used to investigate the differences in total mass found previously in studies of side-by-side sample collection with different sampler types. Over 200 wood-dust samples were collected in three different wood-products industries, using the traditional 37 mm closed-face polystyrene/acrylonitrile cassette (CFC), the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) inhalable sampler, and the Button sampler developed by the University of Cincinnati. Total mass concentration results from the samplers were found to be in approximately the same ratio as those from traditional long-term gravimetric samples, but about an order of magnitude higher. Investigation of the size distributions revealed several differences between the samplers. The wood dust particulate mass appears to be concentrated in the range 10-70 aerodynamic equivalent diameter (AED), but with a substantial mass contribution from particles larger than 100 microm AED in a significant number of samples. These ultra-large particles were found in 65% of the IOM samples, 42% of the CFC samples and 32% of the Button samples. Where present, particles of this size range dominated the total mass collected, contributing an average 53% (range 10-95%). However, significant differences were still found after removal of the ultra-large particles. In general, the IOM and CFC samplers appeared to operate in accordance with previous laboratory studies, such that they both collected similar quantities of particles at the smaller diameters, up to about 30-40 [micro sign]m AED, after which the CFC collection efficiency was reduced dramatically compared to the IOM. The Button sampler collected significantly less than the IOM at particle sizes between 10.1 and 50 microm AED. The collection efficiency of the Button sampler was significantly different from that of the CFC for particle sizes between 10.1 and 40 microm AED, and the total mass concentration given by the Button sampler was significantly less than that given by the CFC, even in the absence of ultra-large particles. The results are consistent with some relevant laboratory studies.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, MS-3030 1095 Willowdale Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA