Field Assessment of Enclosed Cab Filtration System Performance Using Particle Counting Measurements

a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health , Office of Mine Safety and Health Research , Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Impact Factor: 1.17). 09/2013; 10(9):468-77. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2013.818240
Source: PubMed


Enclosed cab filtration systems are typically used on mobile mining equipment to reduce miners' exposure to airborne dust generated during mining operations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) has recently worked with a mining equipment manufacturer to examine a new cab filtration system design for underground industrial minerals equipment. This cab filtration system uses a combination of three particulate filters to reduce equipment operators' exposure to dust and diesel particulates present in underground industrial mineral mines. NIOSH initially examined this cab filtration system using a two-instrument particle counting method at the equipment company's manufacturing shop facility to assess several alternative filters. This cab filtration system design was further studied on several pieces of equipment during a two- to seven-month period at two underground limestone mines. The two-instrument particle counting method was used outside the underground mine at the end of the production shifts to regularly test the cabs' long-term protection factor performance with particulates present in the ambient air. This particle counting method showed that three of the four cabs achieved protection factors greater than 1,000 during the field studies. The fourth cab did not perform at this level because it had a damaged filter in the system. The particle counting measurements of submicron particles present in the ambient air were shown to be a timely and useful quantification method in assessing cab performance during these field studies.

14 Reads
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In cabin filtration systems, blower motors pressurize a vehicle cabin with clean filtered air and recirculate air through an air-conditioning evaporator coil and a heater core. The exposure reduction offered by these cabins is evaluated by optical particle counters that measure size-dependent aerosol concentration inside and outside the cabin. The ratio of the inside-to-outside concentration is termed penetration. Blower motors use stationary carbon brushes to transmit an electrical current through a rotating armature that abrades the carbon brushes. This creates airborne dust that may affect experimental evaluations of aerosol penetration. To evaluate the magnitude of these dust emissions, blower motors were placed in a test chamber and operated at 12 and 13.5 volts DC. A vacuum cleaner drew 76 m3/hour (45 cfm) of air through HEPA filters, the test chamber, and through a 5 cm diameter pipe. An optical particle counter drew air through an isokinetic sampling probe and measured the size-dependent particle concentrations from 0.3 to 15 microm. The concentration of blower motor aerosol was between 2 x 10(5) and 1.8 x 10(6) particles/m3. Aerosol penetration into three stationary vehicles, two pesticide application vehicles and one tractor were measured at two conditions: low concentration (outside in the winter) and high concentration (inside repair shops and burning incense sticks used as a supplemental aerosol source). For particles smaller than 1 microm, the in-cabin concentrations can be explained by the blower motor emissions. For particles larger than 1 microm, other aerosol sources, such as resuspended dirt, are present. Aerosol generated by the operation of the blower motor and by other sources can bias the exposure reduction measured by optical particle counters.
    Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 02/2005; 2(1):45-53. DOI:10.1080/15459620590903020 · 1.17 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cab filtration systems can be used to protect vehicle operators from hazardous air contaminants. In a cab filtration system, a fan draws air through filters and pressurizes the cab with this filtered air. This article describes the application of a low-cost, optical particle counter to evaluate the performance of tractor cab filtration systems. The tractors were equipped with environmental enclosures to protect the operators from pesticide exposures that occur during air blast spraying in orchards. Prior to testing, all environmental tractor cabs underwent a complete maintenance overhaul followed by a careful inspection by the manufacturer's field representative. As part of this maintenance effort, 13 tractors with cab filtration systems were tested in an enclosure. A Met One model 227B two-channel optical particle counter was used to measure the aerosol concentration outside and inside the cab. Ambient aerosol and/or aerosol generated by burning incense sticks were used to challenge the stationary cab filtration system in an enclosure. The ratio of the outside to inside concentration (Co/Ci) is the exposure reduction attained by the cab system. Alternatively, the inside concentration divided by the outside concentration times 100 (Ci/Co x 100) gives the percent penetration. All 13 tractors were tested for leak sites. Leak sites were identified and sealed. This process was repeated until each cab showed an exposure reduction ratio Co/Ci of at least 50 (aerosol penetration into the cab Ci/Co x 100 was less than 2%) at the 0.3-0.5 microm particle size interval.
    Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 11/2005; 2(10):516-23. DOI:10.1080/15459620500297519 · 1.17 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To evaluate filter efficiency and performance of environmental enclosures for tractors, 3- to 4-year-old tractor enclosure combinations (cabs retrofitted to tractors after manufacturing) were studied at a custom pesticide applicators facility. Optical particle counters were used to measure the aerosol number concentration inside and outside the cab. The ratio of these concentrations multiplied by 100 is termed percentage penetration, the amount of the aerosol that penetrates into the enclosure. For particles in the 0.3 to 0.4 microm range, penetration into the cab was reduced from 11 to 0.4% in the following sequential steps. First, manufacturing mistakes were corrected by fixing a bowed flange and inappropriate sealing of the sheet metal used to separate incoming air from air that had passed through the filter. This reduced aerosol penetration from 11 to 4.8%. Replacing gasket material on the used filter reduced penetration from 4.8 to 0.65%. This suggests that the filter gaskets are deforming and allowing leakage. Also, the filter media were evaluated for aerosol penetration as a function of particle size and were tested per the criteria stipulated in 42 CFR 84 for negative pressure air-purifying particulate respirators. These results showed penetration through the filter media of less than 0.03%, indicating that filter media were not a major source of aerosol leakage into the cab. The results suggest that the manufacturer should implement a quality control program to ensure that minimal aerosol penetration criteria into the cabs are met and an acceptable maintenance program exists to ensure compliance. Furthermore, the degradation of filter gasket material over time needs to be minimized to ensure that the environmental cabs continue to provide acceptable performance.
    AIHA Journal 05/2003; 64(3):394-400. DOI:10.1080/15428110308984832