January 12, 2022

New NIOSH Document Focuses on Field-Based Monitoring for Respirable Crystalline Silica

A document published this month by NIOSH describes how to implement field-based monitoring for respirable crystalline silica using portable Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The publication is primarily intended for industrial hygienists and allied professionals who have health and safety responsibilities within the mining industry, though NIOSH states that IHs working in other industries may also find it useful. According to the agency, the document is written for users with experience in respirable dust or respirable crystalline silica exposure assessment who do not necessarily have specialized training in analytical techniques. AIHA member Emanuele Cauda, PhD, co-director of the NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies, is a coauthor of the new publication.

“When used appropriately, field-based monitoring for [respirable crystalline silica] enables the timely evaluation of workplace exposure to crystalline silica and can be a valuable component of successful RCS control strategies,” the document explains. “The accuracy of results obtained via field-based monitoring are reliant upon field conditions as well as upon the conscientious sampling and analysis by the user.”

The new document includes instructions for setting up the equipment and software required for field-based respirable crystalline silica monitoring; technical details of the monitoring method; quality assurance procedures to ensure consistent data; and examples and case studies related to the use of different types of samplers in conjunction with field-based monitoring. Appendices include links to additional resources, operational checklists for field-based monitoring, and a comparison of FTIR data obtained using different methods or parameters.

“Direct-on-Filter Analysis for Respirable Crystalline Silica Using a Portable FTIR Instrument” is freely available to download as a PDF from the NIOSH website.