A portable instrument for proactive prevention of occupational exposure to metals and metal-containing dusts is proposed. The technical approach is innovative and based on analytical principles. The program will result in a tool that improves both routine exposure monitoring and toxicological research capabilities by providing less expensive, more rapid, higher- quality data. Current methods cannot prevent respiratory exposure in real time, and are costly to implement. The proposed approach simultaneously reduces risk of exposure and lowers compliance costs. Phase I and related work have demonstrated a simple method to analyze beryllium, chromium, and lead, which are particularly toxic metals used throughout government and industry. An innovative method to extract metals from sample filters, combined with a highly sensitive and selective voltammetric detection technique was developed and demonstrated in the presence of potential interferences. In Phase II, a personal breathing zone filter analyzer for on-site use will be fabricated and tested using industrial filter samples to validate performance under typical field conditions. Instrument end-user costs is estimated and 15K dollars, with on-site sample turn- around times of 5-20 minutes. The method is simple to operate and does not expose field personnel to hazardous materials.
Government and industry have been clear and persistent in communicating the need for more rapid, lower-cost methods for analyzing respirable toxic metals. Over 10,000 applications exist in electronics, mining, military, coatings, and environmental industries.