PM10 and Respirable Dust Monitoring

Dust monitoring is one aspect of air quality that industrial hygienist use to determine the amount of dust particles present in the workplace, cities or communities over a given period of time.  Two types of dust monitoring include PM10 and Respirable dust, where the quantity and size of the particles are both measured.

Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) monitoring focuses on measuring particles in the air that are equal to or less than 10 micrometers in diameter.  The particles PM 10 monitoring focuses on are capable of penetrating the outer defenses of the respiratory tract, such as the mouth and nose, and can pass easily into the lungs. PM10 air pollutants include but are not limited to soot, smoke, salts, metals, and acids.  These pollutants are typically monitored along work site fence lines, industrial complexes, during wildfires, and high traffic areas (vehicle exhaust).  Without adequate protection or avoidance from PM10 particles, health related illness such as extreme asthma attacks, bronchitis, and lung diseases can occur.

If federal regulations require you to perform PM10 testing, professionals can incorporate the use of a real time aerosol/dust monitor such as the Casella Microdust Pro configured with a size selective filter adapter kit.  The size selective filter adapter kit allows you to filter particle sizes to collect only PM10, PM2.5, or Respirable dust particles.  The guidelines for this type of testing require active flow of particles rather than passive flow across the monitor’s optics as it collects data.  The use of a fan or pump such as the Casella Apex Pro must be employed for such investigations.  The active fans or pumps are used to sustain a set flow rate over the course of the survey.  The pumps can be calibrated using a calibrator like the Sensidyne Go-Cal.

Once the testing phase is completed, the resulting data is analyzed to determine exposure and whether or not protective action needs to be taken.  The general guideline that is followed to make this determination is the EPA’s PM10 compliance guidelines.