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A numerical and experimental investigation of crystalline silica exposure control during tuck pointing.

Heitbrink W; Bennett J
J Occup Environ Hyg 2006 Jul; 3(7):366-378
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers investigated control measures for the removal of mortar between bricks, using a grinder. This task, "tuck pointing," is associated with crystalline silica exposures many times greater than the permissible exposure limit enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Previous studies showed that local exhaust ventilation (LEV) of the grinding wheel through a shroud was often ineffective. Tuck pointing occurs on a scaffold. For practical purposes, this limits the size and power of the LEV system. Thus, the goal of this study was to develop a recommended flow rate for exposure control. Flow induced by the rotating grinding wheel, flow induced by the mortar particle stream, and particle momentum are potential control challenges. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation of the grinder, supported by some experimental measurements, showed the relative importance of these factors through varying parameters and tracking particles. In a simulation of the shroud and grinding wheel, with the wheel inserted to a cutting depth of 0.750 inch flush into the brick wall, -0.461 cubic feet per meter (0.461 into the exhaust takeoff) was induced by the rotating wheel. The more realistic situation of the wheel in a cut in the wall 1.25 inches deep (forming a trench circumferentially 0.500 inch below the wheel edge) induced an airflow of 8.24 cfm out of the shroud exhaust. Experimental measurements taken for validation were 7.3% lower than the CFD value. The trench effect disappeared when a stream of 10-u m particles was launched from the grinding wheel edge, as the simulations with and without the trench had nearly identical induced flow rates, 10.8 cfm and 10.9 cfm. We thus interpreted the particle stream as more important than the wheel in inducing flow. This insight was possible because of the power of CFD, compared to intuition and classical boundary layer analysis. In this situation of no forced exhaust, all particles escaped through the gap between the shroud edge and the brick wall into the worker's environment. Experiments and simulations indicated that approximately 85 cfm was required for good control of silica exposure, clearly demonstrating that the exhaust rate must accomplish much more than balancing the induced flow. The simulations showed that the exhaust must create a vacuum in the shroud sufficient to bend the particle paths into the shroud. In the simulations, stopping the particle stream through collision (effectively removing or reducing the "daylight" between the wall and shroud) greatly lessened the required flow rate. This is difficult in practice because the gaps between the shroud and the brick and between bricks create escape paths.
Silica-dusts; Silicates; Quartz-dust; Control-methods; Exposure-limits; Exposure-assessment; Ventilation; Exhaust-ventilation; Simulation-methods; Grinding-equipment
James S. Bennett, NIOSH-DART/EPHB, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS R5, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Iowa
Page last reviewed: May 6, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division