NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Characterization and mapping of very fine particles in an engine machining and assembly facility.

Heitbrink-WA; Evans-DE; Peters-TM; Slavin-TJ
J Occup Environ Hyg 2007 May; 4(5):341-351
Very fine particle number and mass concentrations were mapped in an engine machining and assembly facility in the winter and summer. A condensation particle counter (CPC) was used to measure particle number concentrations in the 0.01 m to 1 m range, and an optical particle counter (OPC) was used to measure particle number concentrations in 15 channels between 0.3 m and 20 m. The OPC measurements were used to estimate the respirable mass concentration. Very fine particle number concentrations were estimated by subtracting the OPC particle number concentrations from 0.3 m to 1 m from the CPC number concentrations. At specific locations during the summer visit, an electrical low pressure impactor was used to measure particle size distribution from 0.07 m to 10 m in 12 channels. The geometric mean ratio of respirable mass concentration estimated from the OPC to the gravimetrically measured mass concentration was 0.66 with a geometric standard deviation of 1.5. Very fine particle number concentrations in winter were substantially greater where direct-fire natural gas heaters were operated (7.5 × 105 particles/cm3) than where steam was used for heat (3 × 105 particles/cm3). During summer when heaters were off, the very fine particle number concentrations were below 105 particles/cm3, regardless of location. Elevated very fine particle number concentrations were associated with machining operations with poor enclosures. Whereas respirable mass concentrations did not vary noticeably with season, they were greater in areas with poorly fitting enclosures (0.12 mg/m3) than in areas where state-of-the-art enclosures were used (0.03 mg/m3). These differences were attributed to metalworking fluid mist that escaped from poorly fitting enclosures. Particles generated from direct-fire natural gas heater operation were very small, with a number size distribution modal diameter of less than 0.023 m. Aerosols generated by machining operations had number size distributions modes in the 0.023 m to 0.1 m range. However, multiple modes in the mass size distributions estimated from OPC measurements occurred in the 2-20 m range. Although elevated, very fine particle concentrations and respirable mass concentrations were both associated with poorly enclosed machining operations; the operation of the direct-fire natural gas heaters resulted in the greatest very fine particle concentrations without elevating the respirable mass concentration. These results suggest that respirable mass concentration may not be an adequate indicator for very fine particle exposure.
Particle-aerodynamics; Particle-counters; Particulate-dust; Particulate-sampling-methods; Mathematical-models; Measurement-equipment; Heat-conduction; Respirable-dust; Gas-sampling; Aerosol-particles; Aerosol-sampling
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Emerging Technologies; Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division