If you read my blog The Worst Jobs for Your Lungs last week, you know that at any given time there’s all sorts of dust in the air we breathe. In fact, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to public health.* Whether you work inside or outdoors, it’s likely that your work environment comes with its own unique set of dust challenges.

Small granite rock stone fly isolated on black background. Stone with white powder splash on dark background.
Today I’m discussing the top methods used for measuring dust particles: how do they work, the environments they’re commonly used in and the top brands available through Levitt-Safety.

1. Air Sampling Pumps

How do Air Sampling Pumps work?

Air sampling pumps are a trusted method of sampling many dusts, fumes and mists to determine what particulates are present in a work environment. They are often used when sampling is required for Regulatory and Health Based requirements (e.g. TWA and STEL) to determine a worker’s exposure to a particular substance. Air Sampling requires a suitable pump, cassette with media, tubing and calibrator. Once a sample is collected, it is sent for analysis according to the sampling method used. Established sampling methods developed by NIOSH and OSHA exist for many substances found in industries across Canada and guide users through the sampling process including flow rate and volume, sample media, analysis technique and more.

Industries that use Air Sampling Pumps:

  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Pharmaceutical

What are the top Air Sampling Pump brands?

Many advancements have been made in recent years in the development of personal sampling pumps and related accessories. The Gilair Plus by Sensidyne is a newer pump on the market that has desirable features including a Bluetooth connection which allows pump status to be monitored with a mobile device, automatic restart on fault condition, data logging and automatic calibration.
The Gilair Plus is further supported by the Power Series of pumps like the 800i, 5000, 10i and 12 that offer the highest back pressure capability on the market for tough sampling environments and the long awaited Gilibrator 3 – winner of the 2018 OH&S Product of the Year award.

2. Optical Particle Counter (OPC)

How do Optical Particle Counters work?

Optical Particle Counters are proving themselves to be one of the most versatile methods of dust monitoring. These instruments are currently available as portable, wearable and fixed devices that provide valuable features for those looking for real-time data related to dust in the workplace.
OPCs use a laser to count particles with light-scattering technology. The particles can be separated based on their size (0.3–25µm) allowing a user to collect data based on a total sample or specific to a targeted size of particle without the use of impactors or other size selective devices.

Industries that use Optical Particle Counters:

  • Cleanrooms
  • Health care
  • Mining
  • Oil & Gas
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Electronics
  • Any workplace that is concerned with indoor air quality

What are the top Optical Particle Counter brands?particles plus

Particles Plus offer portable and fixed particle counters with valuable features for the safety professional. These instruments are easy to configure, display up to six size channels, can be Wi-Fi enabled as well as configured to measure temperature, relative humidity,
CO2 and VOC in addition to a particle mass concentration (µg/m3) mode.
The Nanozen DustCount is a wearable device that has the ability to provide real-time data as well as collect a sample on a filter for lab analysis in a small compact size. Data collected by the instrument can be used for immediate decision making or recorded and downloaded for future use.

3. Condensation Particle Counter (CPC)

How do Condensation Particle Counters work?

Much like Optical Particle Counters, Condensation Particle Counters use a laser to count particles as they scatter the light of a focused laser. The difference with CPCs is the size of the particle detected (0.015-1.0µm) which are considered to be ultrafine particles. CPC’s generally require the use of alcohol vapour to grow the particles to a size large enough to scatter light.

Industries that use Condensation Particle Counters:

  • Particle research
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Filter testing
  • Combustion analysis
  • Indoor air quality

What are the top Condensation Particle Counter brands?

The Kanomax 3800 is a handheld CPC with a concentration range of 0-100,000 particles/cm3.  It comes with full data logging capabilities, sample probe and software to complement sampling equipment.

4. Photometer / Nephelometer

How do Photometers work?

Photometers are used to measure larger dust particles with a light source and detector. In contrast to the other methods, photometers are look at the size, shape, density and reflectivity of particles to determine quantity which is measured in mg/m3. Calibration factors can be used to adjust instrument response to known particulate properties. It’s important to note that size-selective inlets are required when looking at specific particle sizes.

Industries that use Photometers:

  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

What are the top Photometer brands?

The Sensidyne Nephelometer with a 0.0001–10mg/m3 range is a proven real-time handheld dust monitor. The available TSP, PM10, PM4 and PM2.5 make it a versatile instrument for many environments.

These four methods are amongst the most popular when it comes to detecting and measuring in the workplace. If you have any questions or concerns about your unique dust monitoring needs, be sure to let us know.

Jonathan McCallum

Market Segment Manager: Occupational Health, Industrial Hygiene & Environmental Monitoring

  What can we help you with?
  Send Us Feedback