How to Monitor Dust?

Dust monitoring is a requirement for many construction projects and in industries such as quarrying, mining and manufacturing.

There are two different size fractions of dust particles (or particulate matter) that are typically measured:

Image courtesy of US EPA

PM10 and PM2.5

Particulate matter can enter the lungs and bloodstream and is linked to a wide range of physical and mental health disorders.

Monitoring for Dust Using Two Primary Methods:

  • Gravimetric using filters
  • In real-time using sensor technology

Gravimetric Using Filters

Gravimetric sampling measures the mass of dust on a filter. This dust has been fallen onto the filter or a pump is used to pull large volumes of air across the filter.

In both cases, these filters are sent to a laboratory for analysis and a concentration for the sample period.

These measurements are very accurate, but are a historical result only and typically only give a result for either a month or 24 hour period. To determine the concentration of dust in real-time, sensor technology is required.

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Real-Time Using Sensor Technology

Real-time dust monitoring uses sensor technology in an analyzer to indirectly measure the concentration of dust. The dust particles are drawn over a laser and the amount of light scattered during this process is proportional to the dust concentration. Results are recorded every minute and allow for reactive management on-site. The accuracy of this technique depends on the quality of the sensor and the type of equipment being used. Accuracy can be greatly improved using the following:

  • A physical cyclone which prevents large dust particles from entering the laser
  • A raised inlet to prevent false negatives from dust collecting on nearby surfaces
  • Auto zero calibration of the monitor at least every 24 hours
  • The use of a heated inlet to remove water particles which can look like dust to the laser
  • A constant flow rate using a high quality pump (>1 L/min)
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Real-Time Dust Monitors Should Also Have the Following Features

These features will address community health concerns and satisfy stakeholders:

  1. Alert notifications – Following high dust concentrations, your monitor should be able to send you an alert to address any issues. A typical alert notification is 150 ug/m3 (15 min average) for PM10.
  2. Weather StationA weather station should be used to understand the source of dust, and to exclude dust generated off-site.\
  3. Automated data collectionUse a data logger to send your data directly to the cloud for access to your data from any location.

For further information about how to monitor dust, please call us for a free consultation.