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Ventilation equations for improved exothermic process control.

McKernan-JL; Ellenbecker-MJ
Ann Occup Hyg 2007 Apr; 51(3):269-279
Exothermic or heated processes create potentially unsafe work environments for an estimated 5-10 million American workers each year. Excessive heat and process contaminants have the potential to cause acute health effects such as heat stroke, and chronic effects such as manganism in welders. Although millions of workers are exposed to exothermic processes, insufficient attention has been given to continuously improving engineering technologies for these processes to provide effective and efficient control. Currently there is no specific occupational standard established by OSHA regarding exposure to heat from exothermic processes, therefore it is important to investigate techniques that can mitigate known and potential adverse occupational health effects. The current understanding of engineering controls for exothermic processes is primarily based on a book chapter written by W. C. L. Hemeon in 1955. Improvements in heat transfer and meteorological theory necessary to design improved process controls have occurred since this time. The research presented involved a review of the physical properties, heat transfer and meteorological theories governing buoyant air flow created by exothermic processes. These properties and theories were used to identify parameters and develop equations required for the determination of buoyant volumetric flow to assist in improving ventilation controls. Goals of this research were to develop and describe a new (i.e. proposed) flow equation, and compare it to currently accepted ones by Hemeon and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Numerical assessments were conducted to compare solutions from the proposed equations for plume area, mean velocity and flow to those from the ACGIH and Hemeon. Parameters were varied for the dependent variables and solutions from the proposed, ACGIH, and Hemeon equations for plume area, mean velocity and flow were analyzed using a randomized complete block statistical design (ANOVA). Results indicate that the proposed plume mean velocity equation provides significantly greater means than either the ACGIH or Hemeon equations throughout the range of parameters investigated. The proposed equations for plume area and flow also provide significantly greater means than either the ACGIH or Hemeon equations at distances >1 m above exothermic processes. With an accurate solution for the total volumetric flow, ventilation engineers and practicing industrial hygienists are equipped with the necessary information to design and size hoods, as well as place them at an optimal distance from the source to provide adequate control of the rising plume. The equations developed will allow researchers and practitioners to determine the critical control parameters for exothermic processes, such as the exhaust flow necessary to improve efficacy and efficiency, while ensuring adequate worker protection.
Emission-sources; Exhaust-ventilation; Exhaust-hoods; Work-areas; Work-environment; Worker-health; Mathematical-models; Statistical-analysis; Controlled-atmospheres; Controlled-environment; Air-monitoring; Air-quality; Air-quality-control; Heat-regulation; Heat-stress; Heat-exposure; Author Keywords: engineering controls; hot process; local exhaust ventilation
John L. McKernan, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation and Field Studies, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS-R14, Cincinnati, OH 45226
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Annals of Occupational Hygiene