Why Use Particle Counters?-October 2011

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

October 2011

IN THIS ISSUE: Why Use Particle Counters?

A particle counter can be a useful tool for screening employee exposure to airborne materials such as dusts, mists, fumes, and smoke. It is a sophisticated, direct-reading instrument that detects and counts particles and does not require the collection of a sample or laboratory analysis. 

“Without a doubt, particle counters are an excellent tool for checking contamination levels,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, “They are convenient, easy to operate, and can take a bunch measurements over a short period of time.” 

When selecting a particle counter, it’s important to consider the unique conditions of your workplace.

  • How does a Particle Counter Work? A particle counter uses a beam of light that is projected through the sample. If a particle blocks or scatters the light, it results in a measurable energy drop that is roughly proportional to the size of the particle.  A particle counter can be set to record average concentrations over the shift or over a shorter duration. It can also determine particle size to measure respirable particulates. It can worn by an employee to record personal exposure or set in a stationary location to take an area sample. 
  • When Should a Particle Counter be Used? Established air sampling methods should be followed, where specific contaminants, such as silica, asbestos, or hazardous metals are known. In all of these cases, an optical particle counter can be used as a screening tool to determine the concentration of suspended materials in the air.
  • What if Results Exceed Health Standards?  Both the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) have established time weighted average standards for Respirable and Total Particulates.If results from a particle counter exceed occupational health standards, then further testing using an approved method should be conducted.

It is important to remember that they should be used only as a preliminary measurement. Where a hazardous component of the sample is suspected, the result may be compared to the specific employee exposure standard, but followed with OSHA or ACGIH approved testing. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or (303) 219-6973 or visit us at www.occusafeinc.com.

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate andcontrol hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc.   Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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