SiO2 aerosol nanoparticle reactor for occupational health and safety studies
Important questions are emerging about potential occupational safety, toxicological, and ecotoxicological effects and occupational inhalation exposure risks to engineered aerosol nanoparticles. Although multiple avenues are available to synthesize nanoparticles, few tools are accessible to industrial hygienists and inhalation toxicologists to produce well-characterized aerosols of known aerosol size distribution and particle number concentration that are stable, simple, and robust to operate. This article describes a SiO(2) aerosol nanoparticle reactor that has been developed as a tool for the study of the safety, health, and environmental consequences of exposure to nanoparticle synthesis and processing. The SiO(2) aerosol nanoparticle reactor is capable of stable, long-term synthesis of amorphous SiO(2) aerosol nanoparticles from d(50) = 10-70 nm at particle concentrations approximately 10(4)-10(7)particles/cm(3) that does not produce halogen-containing byproducts and does not require daily monitoring of the particle size distribution. This reactor is designed to produce a well-characterized aerosol to enable subsequent testing with a continuous, stable supply of aerosol nanoparticles (i) to facilitate inhalation toxicology studies, (ii) to measure explosion characteristics of aerosol nanoparticles, (iii) to determine the barrier efficacy for respirator filtration, bag house exhaust, and personal protective garment media challenged with diverse aerosol nanoparticles, and (iv) to develop airborne monitoring technologies for verifying workplace safety protocols. This article details reactor design, synthesis parameters, and instruments available to characterize the resulting aerosol nanoparticle size distributions.