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Hazards of Aluminium Fumes

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Hazards of Aluminium fumes have been well documented in various scientific journals. The health hazard assessment is done by sampling. Sampling has been well prescribed by the Draft British Standard (DD54) for breathing zone. Chemical analysis techniques for milligram amounts of fume obtained are outlined in DD54; part I. The metallic particles are classified as inhalable, respirable, sub-micron, thoracic and fractionates according to the size of the particles. The sampling technique and devise depends on thus, the size of the particles. For sampling and assessing inhalable particles, a flow rate of 4 liters of air per minute with a 25 mm filter is recommended.

For assessing respirable particles, a flow rate of 2 liters per minute with a 25mm filter is recommended. For sub-micron particulate assessment, a flow rate of 1.7 liters per minute with 37 mm filter is recommended. For the assessment of thoracic and fractionates a 9-liter flow rate with 37 mm filter is ideal. The sample can be assessed by gravimetric analysis. Passive- diffusive air samplers provide a simple, reliable, and economical method for air sampling for personal sampling.

Mandatory surveillance programs of the working atmosphere, measurements of fluorides and particulates are annually carried out in the aluminum industry. Potroom workers are randomly selected to wear personal samplers for 8hour shifts at different intervals. Usually, 10-20 measurements are carried out in a year. Time-weighted mean estimates of exposure to total fluorides and particulates in selected job categories are calculated representing the exposure during the past years. Various analytical methods have been developed to determine aluminum in biological samples. Graphite furnace atomic-absorption spectrometry (GF-AAS) and inductively coupled plasma - atomic-emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) have been the most frequently used methods.

Contamination of the samples with aluminum from air, vessels or reagents during sampling and preparation could cause errors in assessment.

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