Physicochemical characteristics and occupational exposure to coarse, fine and ultrafine particles during building refurbishment activities

  • Farhad Azarmi
  • Prashant Kumar
  • Mike Mulheron
  • Julien L. Colaux
  • Chris Jeynes
  • Siavash Adhami
  • John F. Watts
Research Paper

Abstract

Understanding of the emissions of coarse (PM10 ≤10 μm), fine (PM2.5 ≤2.5 μm) and ultrafine particles (UFP <100 nm) from refurbishment activities and their dispersion into the nearby environment is of primary importance for developing efficient risk assessment and management strategies in the construction and demolition industry. This study investigates the release, occupational exposure and physicochemical properties of particulate matter, including UFPs, from over 20 different refurbishment activities occurring at an operational building site. Particles were measured in the 5–10,000-nm-size range using a fast response differential mobility spectrometer and a GRIMM particle spectrometer for 55 h over 8 days. The UFPs were found to account for >90 % of the total particle number concentrations and <10 % of the total mass concentrations released during the recorded activities. The highest UFP concentrations were 4860, 740, 650 and 500 times above the background value during wall-chasing, drilling, cementing and general demolition activities, respectively. Scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and ion beam analysis were used to identify physicochemical characteristics of particles and attribute them to probable sources considering the size and the nature of the particles. The results confirm that refurbishment activities produce significant levels (both number and mass) of airborne particles, indicating a need to develop appropriate regulations for the control of occupational exposure of operatives undertaking building refurbishment.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords

Building refurbishment Particulate matter Ultrafine particles SEM, XPS and IBA Occupational exposure Environmental, health and safety (EHS) 

Abbreviations

UFP

Ultrafine particle

PM

Particulate matter

PND

Particle number distribution

PNC

Particle number concentration

PMC

Particle mass concentration

SEM

Scanning electron microscope

FIB

Focussed ion beam

PIXE

Particle-induced X-ray emission

EBS

Elastic backscattering spectrometry

XPS

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

IBA

Ion beam analysis

PTFE

Polytetrafluoroethylene

ICRP

International Commission on Radiological Protection

VT

Tidal volume

DF

Deposited fraction

f

Typical breathing frequency

MLD

Minimum level of detection

Supplementary material

11051_2015_3141_MOESM1_ESM.docx (737 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 738 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farhad Azarmi
    • 1
  • Prashant Kumar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mike Mulheron
    • 1
  • Julien L. Colaux
    • 3
  • Chris Jeynes
    • 3
  • Siavash Adhami
    • 4
  • John F. Watts
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Environmental Flow (EnFlo) Research CentreUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Ion Beam CentreUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  4. 4.The Surface Analysis Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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