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Articles by M. Eileen Birch
Total Records ( 6 ) for M. Eileen Birch
  M. Eileen Birch , Bon-Ki Ku , Douglas E. Evans and Toni A. Ruda-Eberenz
  Production of carbon nanofibers and nanotubes (CNFs/CNTs) and their composite products is increasing globally. High volume production may increase the exposure risks for workers who handle these materials. Though health effects data for CNFs/CNTs are limited, some studies raise serious health concerns. Given the uncertainty about their potential hazards, there is an immediate need for toxicity data and field studies to assess exposure to CNFs/CNTs. An extensive study was conducted at a facility that manufactures and processes CNFs. Filter, sorbent, cascade impactor, bulk, and microscopy samples, combined with direct-reading instruments, provided complementary information on air contaminants. Samples were analyzed for organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC), metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), with EC as a measure of CNFs. Transmission electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy also was applied. Fine/ultrafine iron-rich soot, PAHs, and carbon monoxide were production byproducts. Direct-reading instrument results were reported previously [Evans DE et al. (Aerosol monitoring during carbon nanofiber production: mobile direct-reading sampling. Ann Occup Hyg 2010;54:514-31.)] Results for time-integrated samples are reported as companion papers in this Issue. OC and EC, metals, and microscopy results are reported here, in Part I, while results for PAHs are reported in Part II [Birch ME. (Exposure and Emissions Monitoring during Carbon Nanofiber Production-Part II: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Ann. Occup. Hyg 2011; 55: 1037-47.)]. Respirable EC area concentrations inside the facility were about 6-68 times higher than outdoors, while personal breathing zone samples were up to 170 times higher.
  M. Eileen Birch
  Production of carbon nanofibers and nanotubes (CNFs/CNTs) and their composite products is increasing globally. High-volume production may increase the exposure risks for workers who handle these materials. Though health effects data for CNFs/CNTs are limited, some studies raise serious health concerns. Given the uncertainty about their potential hazards, there is an immediate need for toxicity data and field studies to assess exposure to CNFs/CNTs. An extensive study was conducted at a facility that manufactures and processes CNFs. Filter, sorbent, cascade impactor, bulk, and microscopy samples, combined with direct-reading instruments, provided complementary information on air contaminants. Samples were analyzed for organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC), metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), with EC as a measure of CNFs. Transmission electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy also was applied. Fine/ultrafine iron-rich soot, PAHs, and carbon monoxide were production byproducts. Direct-reading instrument results were reported previously [Evans DE et al. (Aerosol monitoring during carbon nanofiber production: mobile direct-reading sampling. Ann Occup Hyg 2010; 54:514-31)]. Results for time-integrated samples are reported as companion papers in this issue. OC and EC, metals, and microscopy results are reported in Part I [Birch ME et al. (Exposure and emissions monitoring during carbon nanofiber production-Part I: elemental carbon and iron-soot aerosols. Ann Occup Hyg 2011; 55: 1016-36.)] whereas results for PAHs are reported here. Naphthalene and acenaphthylene were the dominant PAHs with average concentrations ranging from 115 to 336 μg m-3 and 35 to 84 μg m-3, respectively. Concentrations of other PAHs ranged from ~1 to 10 μg m-3.
  Matthew M. Dahm , Douglas E. Evans , Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan , M. Eileen Birch and Joseph E. Fernback
  Research Significance: Toxicological evidence suggests the potential for a wide range of health effects, which could result from exposure to carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers (CNFs). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has proposed a recommended exposure limit (REL) for CNTs/CNFs at the respirable size fraction. The current literature is lacking exposure information, with few studies reporting results for personal breathing zone (PBZ) samples in occupational settings. To address this gap, exposure assessments were conducted at six representative sites identified as CNT/CNF primary or secondary manufacturers.

Methods: Personal and area filter-based samples were collected for both the inhalable mass concentration and the respirable mass concentration of elemental carbon (EC) as well as CNT structure count analysis by transmission electron microscopy to assess exposures. When possible, full-shift PBZ samples were collected; area samples were collected on a task-based approach.

Results: The vast majority of samples collected in this study were below the proposed REL (7 μg m-3). Two of the three secondary manufacturers’ surveyed found concentrations above the proposed REL. None of the samples collected at primary manufacturers were found to be above the REL. Visual and microscopy-based evidence of CNTs/CNFs were found at all sites, with the highest CNT/CNF structure counts being found in samples collected at secondary manufacturing sites. The statistical correlations between the filter-based samples for the mass concentration of EC and CNT structure counts were examined. A general trend was found with a P-value of 0.01 and a corresponding Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.44.

Conclusions: CNT/CNF concentrations were above the proposed NIOSH REL for PBZ samples in two secondary manufacturing facilities that use these materials for commercial applications. These samples were collected during dry powder handling processes, such as mixing and weighing, using fairly large quantities of CNTs/CNFs.

  Ming Chai , M. Eileen Birch and Greg Deye
  Carbonaceous aerosols play an important role in climate, visibility, air quality, and human health effects, and they have been routinely monitored in workplace and environmental settings. Different thermal analysis methods have been applied to determine the carbon content of carbonaceous aerosols. Good agreement between results for total carbon (TC) generally has been found, but the organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC) fractions determined by different methods often disagree. Measurement uncertainty is mainly due to pyrolysis and charring of OC sample components. Lack of reference materials has impeded progress on method standardization and understanding method biases. A relatively simple method for generating matched filter sets having known OC-EC contents is reported. After generation and analysis of each set to confirm agreement between filters, the filter sets were distributed to six laboratories for an interlaboratory comparison. Analytical results indicate a uniform carbon distribution for the filter sets and good agreement between the participating laboratories. Relative standard deviations (RSDs) for mean TC (OC + EC), OC, and EC results for seven laboratories were <10, 11, and 12% (respectively). Except for one EC result (RSD = 16%), RSDs reported by individual laboratories for TC, OC, and EC were <12%. The method of filter generation is generally applicable and reproducible. Depending on the application, different filter loadings and types of OC materials can be employed. Matched filter sets prepared by the described approach can be used for determining the accuracy of OC-EC methods and thereby contribute to method standardization.
  Matthew M. Dahm , Douglas E. Evans , Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan , M. Eileen Birch and James A. Deddens
  Research Significance: Toxicological evidence suggests the potential for a wide range of health effects from exposure to carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers (CNFs). To date, there has been much focus on the use of direct-reading instruments (DRIs) to assess multiple airborne exposure metrics for potential exposures to CNTs and CNFs due to their ease of use and ability to provide instantaneous results. Still, uncertainty exists in the usefulness and interpretation of the data. To address this gap, air-monitoring was conducted at six sites identified as CNT and CNF manufacturers or users and results were compared with filter-based metrics.

Methods: Particle number, respirable mass, and active surface area concentrations were monitored with a condensation particle counter, a photometer, and a diffusion charger, respectively. The instruments were placed on a mobile cart and used as area monitors in parallel with filter-based elemental carbon (EC) and electron microscopy samples. Repeat samples were collected on consecutive days, when possible, during the same processes. All instruments in this study are portable and routinely used for industrial hygiene sampling.

Results: Differences were not observed among the various sampled processes compared with concurrent indoor or outdoor background samples while examining the different DRI exposure metrics. Such data were also inconsistent with results for filter-based samples collected concurrently at the same sites [Dahm MM, Evans DE, Schubauer-Berigan MK et al. (2012) Occupational exposure assessment in CNT and nanofiber primary and secondary manufacturers. Ann Occup Hyg; 56: 542-56]. Significant variability was seen between these processes as well as the indoor and outdoor backgrounds. However, no clear pattern emerged linking the DRI results to the EC or the microscopy data (CNT and CNF structure counts).

Conclusions: Overall, no consistent trends were seen among similar processes at the various sites. The DRI instruments employed were limited in their usefulness in assessing and quantifying potential exposures at the sampled sites but were helpful for hypothesis generation, control technology evaluations, and other air quality issues. The DRIs employed are nonspecific, aerosol monitors, and, therefore, subject to interferences. As such, it is necessary to collect samples for analysis by more selective, time-integrated, laboratory-based methods to confirm and quantify exposures.

  M. Eileen Birch , Toni A. Ruda-Eberenz , Ming Chai , Ronnee Andrews and Randal L. Hatfield
  Commercially available carbon nanotubes and nanofibers were analyzed to examine possible relationships between their Brunauer-Emmett-Teller specific surface areas (SSAs) and their physical and chemical properties. Properties found to influence surface area were number of walls/diameter, impurities, and surface functionalization with hydroxyl and carboxyl groups. Characterization by electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry, thermogravimetric analysis, and elemental analysis indicates that SSA can provide insight on carbon nanomaterials properties, which can differ vastly depending on synthesis parameters and post-production treatments. In this study, how different properties may influence surface area is discussed. The materials examined have a wide range of surface areas. The measured surface areas differed from product specifications, to varying degrees, and between similar products. Findings emphasize the multiple factors that influence surface area and mark its utility in carbon nanomaterial characterization, a prerequisite to understanding their potential applications and toxicities. Implications for occupational monitoring are discussed.
 
 
 
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