Metoder för snabb och enkel mätning av exponering för kvarts i arbetsmiljön – finns det?

This report is only available in Swedish. English summary is available in the report.


Construction includes many processes where respirable inorganic dust containing crystalline silica is generated. Exposure to silica in concentration above the Swedish occupational exposure limit value (OEL) is connected to severe health hazards, such as risk of developing silicosis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as cardiovascular and rheumatic diseases. Constructions workers have a high risk of exposure to silica. Measurement of workers exposure to silica and measurement of what concentrations occur during different work tasks is essential as a basis for decisions about what control measures are needed to protect the workers.

The methods used to measure the concentration of respirable organic dust and silica were developed during the 1970ies and 1980ies. The methods require a lot of time and the result of the measurements are usually presented several weeks after the measurement was conducted. In practice, the work tasks during which the measurements were conducted have often ceased before getting the results from the measurements. In addition, expert knowledge is often required both for the measurements and the analysis. Therefore, the construction industry has pointed out the need for modern, fast and cheap methods to measure silica exposure. The aim is to be able to measure the exposure to respirable dust and silica, the results of which can be used as a basis for risk assessments. Direct-reading instruments is an interesting option which should be evaluated.

Available and used measuring methods have been reviewed and methods under development have been searched for. The review shows that the only currently available method which can be used to measure respirable silica is filter sampling followed by field analyses with a portable FTIR-instrument. The cost for such an instrument is currently between 150 000 and 300 000 SEK.

An alternative method, which has focus on controlling exposure to high concentrations of dust instead of measuring exposure, is measurements with an instrument measuring the number and mass of particles. These instruments are used to identify work tasks generating high concentrations of dust, which moves focus from exposure and comparison with OEL to identifying and controlling the emissions of dust. There are several different instruments available at different prices, ranging from 50 000 SEK and upwards. This type of measurement require presence during the working day in order to facilitate identification of the cause of temporary high concentrations of dust, i.e. what work tasks are generating the high concentrations.

Within IVL, a parallel project is currently ongoing about so called reference measurements for silica in the construction industry. Reference measurements are measurements made under well-defined circumstances, which can be used as a basis for risk assessment in other companies, provided the circumstances are similar. In that project, direct-reading instruments for measurement of respirable dust have been used in a way which resembles the description above. The result from that projekt will be published in a separate report this year (2019).

Coworkers: Ann-Beth Antonsson, Bo Sahlberg

Year: 2019.0

Report number: B2342

Authors: Ann-Beth Antonsson, Anne-Marie Rydström, Bo Sahlberg

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