University of Limerick
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Critical aspects in occupational exposure assessment with different aerosol metrics in an industrial spray coating process

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-18, 08:57 authored by Franco Belosi, Antti Joonas Koivisto, Irini FurxhiIrini Furxhi, Jesús Lopez de Ipina, Alessia Nicosia, Fabrizio Ravegnani, Simona Ortelli, Ilaria Zanoni, Anna Costa

Engineered Nanomaterials (ENMs) have several uses in various industrial fields and are embedded in a myriad of consumer products. However, there is continued concern over the potential adverse health effects and environmental impacts of ENMs due to their unique physico-chemical characteristics. Currently, there are no specific international regulations for various ENMs. There are also no Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) regulated by the European Union (EU) for nanomaterials in the form of nano-objects, their aggregates or agglomerates (NOAA). For ENMs the question of which metric to be used (i.e., mass, surface area, number concentrations) to determine the exposure is still not resolved. The aim of this work is to assess the worker exposure by inhalation in an industrial spray coating process by using all three metrics mentioned above. Two target ENMs (N-doped TiO2, TiO2N and AgNPs capped with a quaternized hydroxyethyl-cellulose, AgHEC) generated for industrial-scale spraying processes were considered. Results showed that the averaged particle number concentration (10–100 nm) was below 2.7 104 cm− 3 for both materials. The Lung Deposited Surface Area (LDSA) was in the range between 73 and 98 μm2 cm− 3 and the particle mass concentration (obtained by means of ICP-EOS off-line analysis) resulted below 70 μg m− 3 and 0.4 μg m− 3 for TiO2 and Ag, respectively. Although, the airborne particles concentration compared well with the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Level (REL) limits the contribution to the background, according to EN 17058 (Annex E) was significant (particularly in the particle number and PM1 mass concentrations). We successfully evaluated the worker exposure by means of the different airborne particles' metrics (number, surface and mass concentrations). We concluded that worker exposure assessment involving ENMs is a complex procedure with requires both real time and off-line measurements and a deep investigation of the background.


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