Report: Measuring respirable crystalline silica
This report investigates the challenges of measuring airborne concentrations of respirable crystalline silica in Australian workplaces at and below 0.02 mg/m3.
The report found that at low airborne concentrations of respirable crystalline silica the uncertainty of the measurement was much higher. This uncertainty was caused by sampling error, analytical uncertainty and laboratory reporting and performance.
A workplace exposure standard (WES) needs to be able to be reliably measured to protect worker health. If the WES for respirable crystalline silica was 0.02 mg/m3 businesses would currently be unable to work out if their workplace was above or below the WES. Businesses would also be unable to use action levels (50% of the WES, 0.01 mg/m3) to review existing controls or start new controls to reduce worker exposure.
The report recommended that more work be done on measurement standards and laboratory techniques in Australia before the WES for respirable crystalline silica is lowered.