Real-time silica monitor enhances respiratory safety

Monday, 24 June, 2024 | Supplied by: Active Environmental Solutions

Real-time silica monitor enhances respiratory safety

Despite the recent ban on engineered stone, exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) dust remains a risk to workers.

Research from The Lung Foundation showed an estimated 600,000 Australian workers1 are exposed to silica dust across a wide range of industries including quarrying, construction, tunnelling, mining and many manufacturing processes.

To help combat this problem, the AIR XS Silica Monitor was developed by Trolex. The technology helps to protect workers against lung diseases such as silicosis by providing real-time readings of levels of crystalline silica in the air.

The Trolex AIR XS.

Trolex recently commissioned an occupational hygiene and laboratory testing organisation to conduct independent testing of the AIR XS. The results showed that the Air XS repeatedly provided consistent, accurate, real-time data throughout an eight-hour testing period.

This suggests that the AIR XS can improve worker safety by providing instant information to businesses and workers exposed to RCS, instead of having to wait up to four weeks to discover their level of exposure — such as with the current approach of gravimetric sampling. This process requires collection, processing and laboratory analysis of the sample, which is both time-consuming and costly for businesses. On the other hand, direct-reading instruments offer businesses the ability to monitor employee safety on sites in real time, eliminating the delays typically associated with potential RCS exposure. The AIR XS is now being used by companies in Australia to monitor RCS levels in many industrial locations.

While the federal government recently implemented a ban on engineered stone (commencing 1 July 2024), which is the process most synonymous with creating silica dust, Group CEO of UK-based Trolex Glyn Pierce-Jones said this ban alone would not solve the current health crisis caused by RCS.

“Silica dust is found in most building materials, so while banning engineered stone is a positive step, it’s not a holistic solution. The real issue facing the industry is the current archaic methods of testing for silica dust and the delay it causes in creating the safest possible workplace,” he said.

Pierce-Jones emphasised the urgent need for enhanced safety measures for anyone who may be in contact with silica.

“The current testing methodology for RCS only allows users to take an average reading over an eight-hour period and typically takes up to four weeks to produce a result,” he said.

“Our AIR XS Monitor was designed to provide an accurate reading with immediate results, letting workers know when their health is in danger and allowing employers to respond in the most efficient manner.

“These latest test results are another indicator of what we already knew at Trolex — that the AIR XS could be part of a desperately needed solution to an urgent health crisis.”

Aleks Todorovic, Managing Director of Active Environmental Solutions (AES), the Australian distributor of the product, said: “In the two years we’ve been supplying the AIR XS, we’ve seen how simple it is to set up and how effective it can be in providing real-time data to our customers. This allows them to respond instantly to dangerous levels of RCS and to provide the best controls and safety procedures to protect their workers.”

1. Lung Foundation Australia, Silica dust exposure: What is it and what can you do about it?

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