Laboratory evaluation of a personal aethalometer for assessing airborne carbon nanotube exposures
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Laboratory evaluation of a personal aethalometer for assessing airborne carbon nanotube exposures

  • Published Date:

    April 14 2020

  • Source:
    J Occup Environ Hyg. 17(6):262-273
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-3.83 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    J Occup Environ Hyg
  • Description:
    Aethalometers are direct-reading instruments primarily used for measuring black carbon (BC) concentrations in workplace and ambient atmospheres. Aethalometer BC measurements of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were compared to measurements made by other methods when subjected to high (>30 µg/m|) and low (1-30 µg/m|) CNT aerosol concentrations representing worst-case and typical workplace concentrations, respectively. A laboratory-based system was developed to generate carbon black, as an example of a nearly pure carbon, micron-sized aerosol, and two forms of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs): small-diameter (<8 nm) and large-diameter (50-80 nm). High-concentration trials were conducted during which a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) was used to track particle count concentrations over time. Relative to the behavior of the SMPS counts over time, aethalometer readings exhibited a downward drift, which is indicative of aethalometer response subjected to high BC loading on the receiving filter of the instrument. A post-sample mathematical method was applied that adequately corrected for the drift. Low-concentration trials, during which concentration drift did not occur, were conducted to test aethalometer accuracy. The average BC concentration during a trial was compared to elemental carbon (EC) concentration sampled with a quartz-fiber filter and quantified by NIOSH Method 5040. The CB and large-diameter CNT concentrations measured with the aethalometer produced slopes when regressed on EC that were not significantly different from unity, whereas the small-diameter CNTs were under-sampled by the aethalometer relative to EC. These results indicate that aethalometer response may drift when evaluating CNT exposure scenarios, such as cleaning and powder handling, that produce concentrations >30 µg/m|. However, aethalometer accuracy remains consistent over time when sampling general work zones in which CNT concentrations are expected to be <30 µg/m|. A calibration check of aethalometer response relative to EC measured with Method 5040 is recommended to ensure that the aethalometer readings are not under sampling CNT concentrations as occurred with one of the CNTs evaluated in this study.
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