Bioaerosol: Personal Monitoring

Background

Bioaerosols consist of living and non-living biological particles which have become airborne. Thus, they can be inhaled into the human body, where they have the potential to harm health. To manage this risk, many waste treatment facilities handling organic matter must, at least, consider the risks of bioaerosols.

In this case, a Council wished to assess the risks posed to their staff by monitoring bioaerosols produced through pressure washing RCV’s. The aim of this was to identify whether staff responsible for pressure washing were experiencing unacceptably high and detrimental concentrations of bioaerosols during this task.

 The Brief

We were employed to monitor the bioaerosol concentrations that site operatives are exposed to whilst cleaning RCV’s through pressure washing, as per a standard weekly clean. This was completed through occupational personal monitoring for bioaerosols, which gives an accurate indication of the exposure levels experienced by site operatives as they conduct certain tasks.

Implementation

To measure bioaerosol exposure for the operatives who were cleaning RCV’s, we had to work with site staff to fit them with a pump that they would wear whilst conducting this task. We then gave some brief guidance on how we needed them to work in order to generate the results needed.

We receive the raw data from the lab, analysed the data and provide a brief descriptive report. This report was then finalised and approved by Toni Gladding, Professor of Environmental Health at OU – a leader in her field who has decades of experience in bioaerosol monitoring. We also provided various recommendations for how site staff may act to reduce bioaerosol exposure and potential associated health risks. This allowed the council to develop an action plan of future next steps.

Outcome

The results on this monitoring occasion were slightly elevated during the cleaning of some of the RCV’s, so we provided recommendations on how the site could act to reduce bioaerosol exposure during the cleaning of RCV’s.

This work was provided alongside a site walkover to assess general bioaerosol risks around the site, allowing us to provide a comprehensive assessment of the site’s bioaerosol risks, and how to reduce them.

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