PM1 particles at coal- and gas-fired power plant work areas
With the increased interest in the possible adverse health effects attributed to inhalation of fine particle matter, this study was conducted to gather preliminary information about workplace exposures at coal- and gas-fired power plants to fine particles (PM1; i.e. <1 ?m) and ultrafine particles (i.e. <0.1 ?m). Combustion of fossil fuel is known to produce fine particles, and due to their proximity and durations of exposure, power plant workers could be a group of individuals who experience high chronic exposures to these types of particles. The results of a series of real-time instrument measurements showed that concentrations of PM1 were elevated in some locations in power plants. The highest concentrations were in locations near combustion sources, indicating that combustion materials were leaking from conventional fossil fuel-fired boilers or it was associated with emission plume downwash. Concentrations were the lowest inside air-conditioned control rooms where PM1 were present at levels similar to or lower than upwind concentrations. Microscopic examinations indicate that PM1 at the coal-fired plants are dominated by vitrified spheres, although there were also unusual elongated particles. Most of the PM1 were attached to larger coal fly ash particles that may affect where and how they could be deposited in the lung.