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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2011 May;8(5):324-36. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2011.570239.

Factors influencing dust exposure: finishing activities in drywall construction.

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ENVIRON International Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Sanding drywall joint compound is a dusty construction activity. We studied potential factors influencing exposure to respirable and total dust for sanders and bystanders in the area of drywall joint compound finishing in 17 test events within a room-scale isolation chamber. We found the air change rate to be negatively correlated with dust C(twa) both in the sander's personal breathing zone and surrounding area. We could not conclude that sanding tool type systematically influences dust C(twa), but the use of 80-grit abrasive was associated with the highest dust C(twa). We found respirable dusts were uniformly dispersed 1-8.2 m from sanding activities at a fixed location. As anticipated, both respirable and total dust C(twa) in the sander's personal breathing zone are higher than in the surrounding area. The respirable fraction of the total dust mass C(twa) was greater in the surrounding area than in the sander's personal breathing zone. Respirable dust concentrations measured in real time increased over the duration of sanding, exhibiting a temporal trend that is similar to that predicted by the well-mixed box model with contaminant removal by mechanical ventilation only, and continuous emission. Dust concentrations returned to pre-activity (background) levels 2-4 hr after cessation of the sanding activity.

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