Silica is used in large quantities in many different industries and it is easily inhaled. It can cause a range of respiratory ailments, among them asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis and lung cancer. Fortunately, stricter exposure limits are set to take effect in the US in 2018, but this is not the case everywhere.
At Stat Peel, we have developed a compact badge sensor and an integrated bench-top sized optical reader to monitor personal occupational exposure to silica to ensure that safe limits are being enforced. It works in two steps:
1. The employees wear lightweight badges during their workday. The badge collects the respirable fraction of airborne silica using an inertia-based size separator on a custom functionalized membrane.
2. At the end of a shift the badges are inserted into the reader, which selectively detects silica using Raman spectroscopy and reports and stores personal exposure.