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Real-time monitoring of arsenic, cadmium, copper and lead concentrations in workplace smelter particulates using a TSI 8520 DustTrak

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2011, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 13-20

McDonald, J.P.; Larson, R.R.; Pahler, L.F.; Thiese, M.S.


 Exposure to particulates containing metals and metal fumes (PCMMF) is a potential concern in ore refining and smelting. Some metals of primary interest are arsenic, cadmium, copper and lead, which have been linked to various adverse health effects. The current National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sampling method for metals in particulates requires the use of a filter, precision airflow pump and laboratory analysis. A major concern with this method is the one-to-two weeks’ wait before laboratory results are available for use in determining if additional controls are needed to assure adequate exposure protection for workers.

Particulates containing these metals were sampled during sixteen sampling events at a copper smelter using the traditional NIOSH methods. Monitoring of particulates was simultaneously conducted using a TSI 8520 DustTrak real-time aerosol monitor with a 10-µm-cutpoint sampling inlet. NIOSH analytical methods related to particulates and metals (methods 0500, 0600 and 7300) were used to determine particulate mass and individual mass contributions of metals on sample filters.

Linear regressions with y-intercepts forced to zero were developed to determine the relationship between the PM10 measurements recorded by the DustTrak and laboratory-reported total particulate mass, PM10 and respirable arsenic, cadmium, copper and lead concentrations. These linear regressions yielded correction factors that can be applied to DustTrak readings to obtain total particulate mass, PM10 and respirable concentration estimates for each of the four metals. The R2 (coefficient of determination) values from the linear regressions ranged from 0.65 for total lead to 0.91 for total copper. These results suggest that the DustTrak may produce real-time data useful in providing estimates for airborne concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, copper and lead in copper smelter particulates.