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Assessment of exposure to quartz, cristobalite and silicon carbide fibres (whiskers) in a silicon carbide plant

Assessment of exposure to quartz, cristobalite and silicon carbide fibres (whiskers) in a silicon carbide plant

Annals of Occupational Hygiene 49(4): 335-343

The main objective of the present paper is to report on the concentration of silicon carbide (SiC) fibres, crystalline silica and respirable dust in a Canadian SiC production plant and to compare the results with earlier investigations. The second objective is to tentatively explain the differences in concentration of the fibrogenic substances between different countries. The assessment of SiC fibres, dusts, respirable quartz and cristobalite was performed according to standard procedures. The highest 8 h time-weighted average concentrations of fibres were found among the crusher and backhoe attendants and the carboselectors with an arithmetic mean of 0.63 fibres ml(-1) for the former group and 0.51 fibres ml(-1) for the latter group. The results of respirable SiC fibres in the Canadian plant were lower than in the Norwegian and Italian industries. Most of the 8 h time-weighted average concentrations for quartz were less than or around the limit of detection of 0.01 mg m(-3). The maximum 8 h time-weighted average concentration for quartz was found among the carboselectors (0.157 mg m(-3)), followed by the labourers (0.032 mg m(-3)). Similarly, most of the 8 h time-weighted average cristobalite measurements were less than the limit of detection of 0.01 mg m(-3) except for the carboselectors where it was found to be 0.044 mg m(-3). The assessment of the Italian occupational settings exposure demonstrated elevated quartz concentrations, while cristobalite was absent. The authors have concluded that the investigations that were performed in the last two decades in this field by researchers from different countries seem to support that SiC fibres (whiskers) constitute a major airborne health hazard.

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Accession: 011783259

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15650014

DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/meh099

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