NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Used ventilation filters: what is that smell?
Martin S; Coffey C; Lawrence R; Calvert C; Berardinelli S; Jensen P; Jones W
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :24
A strong odor from used ventilation filters was noticed during annual routine maintenance on the air-handling units at a research facility. Maintenance workers expressed concern of a potential health hazard resulting from direct contact with these filters. This concern prompted a thorough examination of the physical and chemical nature of the filters and collected particulate matter. An examination by light microscopy indicated a predominance of opaque small particles. Electron microscopy confirmed the small size of the captured particles, with the majority being in the submicrometer range. High magnification showed many of the particles to be agglomerations of smaller, roughly spherical subunits, consistent with combustion aerosol. Representative headspace samples of filter sections were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS). Toluene, xylene, diethyl-benzenes, and 2-methyl furan were found on all samples. A sub-set of sampled yielded octanal, nonanal, undecane, hexanol, heptanal, dimethyl-benzene and benzaldehyde. Toluene was also confirmed in air samples collected upstream and downstream of the filter bank.
Ventilation-systems; Filters; Hard-metals; Health-hazards; Particulates; Aerosols; Sampling; Air-samples; Workers
108-88-3; 1330-20-7; 25340-17-4
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division