Particulate air pollution, specifically the fine particle fraction (PM2.5), has been associated with increased cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality in general population studies. Occupational exposure to fine particulate matter can exceed ambient levels by a large factor. Due to increased interest in the health effects of particulate matter, many particle sampling methods have been developed In this study, two such measurement methods were used simultaneously and compared. PM2.5 was sampled using a filter-based gravimetric sampling method and a direct-reading instrument, the TSI Inc. model 8520 DUSTTRAK aerosol monitor. Both sampling methods were used to determine the PM2.5 exposure in a group of boilermakers exposed to welding fumes and residual fuel oil ash. The geometric mean PM2.5 concentration was 0.30 mg/m3 (GSD 3.25) and 0.31 mg/m3 (GSD 2.90)from the DUSTTRAK and gravimetric method, respectively. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient for the gravimetric and DUSTTRAK PM2.5 concentrations was 0.68. Linear regression models indicated that log, DUSTTRAK PM2.5 concentrations significantly predicted loge gravimetric PM2.5 concentrations (p < 0.01). The association between log(e) DUSTTRAK and log, gravimetric PM2.5 concentrations was found to be modified by surrogate measures for seasonal variation and type of aerosol. PM2.5 measurements from the DUSTTRAK are well correlated and highly predictive of measurements from the gravimetric sampling method for the aerosols in these work environments. However, results from this study suggest that aerosol particle characteristics may affect the relationship between the gravimetric and DUSTTRAK PM2.5 measurements. Recalibration of the DUSTTRAK for the specific aerosol, as recommended by the manufacturer, may be necessary to produce valid measures of airborne particulate matter.
Spirometry; Bronchial asthma; Airway obstruction; Construction industry; Construction workers; Lung function; Occupational health; Respiratory system disorders; Exposure levels; Questionnaires
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
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