OHS Studying Ways to Track Diesel Exhaust

Diesel engine exhaust (DE) is considered a carcinogen commonly found at many Alberta workplaces.

In February 2016 Alberta OHS directed a project evaluating worker exposure to DE. OHS worked with two mining partners and three municipalities. The project was part of an evidence-based OEL review process intended to provide current information on Alberta workplace exposures. Full-shift occupational and area air samples of the following materials were collected: elemental carbon (perhaps the best available surrogate for measuring DE), CO, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulfur, and total volatile hydrocarbons.

Air samples of elemental carbon were collected and analyzed according to NIOSH method 5040. Real-time monitoring was done simultaneously using the NIOSH Airtec Diesel Particulate Monitor. The results indicate that measuring elemental carbon with the Airtec monitor may underestimate concentrations of elemental carbon, particularly if a correction factor is not applied to the data set. The measurement of exhaust gases does not provide a reliable mechanism of evaluating the potential for overexposure to DE.

For more information, contact Michelle Kutz, Occupational Hygienist, Alberta OHS michelle.kutz@gov.ab.ca.

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