Methods for the collection and characterization of airborne particles in the textile industry
Authors: Emilia Visileanu, Marian Catalin Grosu, Paul Tiberiu Miclea, Korinna Altmann, Dirk Brossell
Abstract: Airborne particulate matter is one of the main air pollutants. Their impact on mortality, and the occurrence of pulmonary and cardiovascular complications, have been the subject of numerous studies. Airborne particles are complex mixtures of organic and inorganic substances from different sources of particle emissions. Particulate Matter (PM) particles are classified according to their aerodynamic diameter expressed in µm and can vary from coarse (PM 10) to fine (less than PM 2.5). These diameter considerations are fundamental because they condition the penetration of particles into the bronchopulmonary system and the body. In recent years, there has been an interest in so-called “ultra-fine” particles, with a diameter of 0.1 µm (or 100 nm), or PM 0.1. They are nanoparticles and their impact on human health is not yet clear.With more than 1.5 million employees, textiles and clothing is a diverse sector that plays an important role in the European manufacturing industry, producing a turnover of €162 billion.An important component of the solid particles that generate air pollution in the textile industry is microplastics (MP) and nano plastics (NP), which also include microfibers (<5mm) and nanofibers (<100 nm), respectively. The particles released into the air during fiber and yarn processing range from 1 µg/m3 to 50 µg/m3.The paper presents the results of the determination of indoor and outdoor air concentration levels in textile companies, to identify the areas with the highest concentration level, by using an online recording system such as the Laser Aerosol Spectrometer MINI LAS model 11-E. The total concentration level TSP (µg/m3), the fractions PM 10(µg/m3), PM 2.5(µg/m3), PM1(µg/m3), as well as the total number of particles TC (1/l), were shown. It was noted that TSP is approximately at the same level both indoors and outdoors, but the fractions of PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 have much higher values indoors than outdoors with possible consequences on workers' health.The next step was the collection of fibers, namely micro and nano plastic particles from the vicinity of the workplaces of polyester, polyamide, and polypropylene fibers processing units in the textile industry in Romania, to obtain a sufficient quantity for laboratory analysis to determine the size and shape of the particles as well as their chemical composition. Two types of pumps were used, differentiated by their operating parameters: TECORA SKYPOST with airflow of 38 l/min and GILAIRPLUS with airflow 2l/min. Filters made of different materials with different diameters and pore sizes were used, namely: quartz filters (ø 47 mm, and ø 37 mm) on a TECORA SKYPOST type pump, polycarbonate nucleopore coated with a gold membrane (ø 25 mm) and silica filter (ø 9 mm) on GILAIRPLUS type pump.Using descriptive statistics, the calculation of correlation coefficients highlighted a strong correlation between the variables: "Collected mass/ Air concentration" and "Collected mass/ Air volume" for all diameters of the filters.The highest collected particle volume, determined by weighing the filters before and after collection, was obtained with the quartz filters (ø 47 mm) at an airflow of 38 l/min. The particles collected (polyester, polyamide, polypropylene) in the first stage were analyzed by SEM and thermogravimetric and it was found that the quartz filters absorbed the particles inside, with very few remaining on the surface. Thus no known methods can be used to perform analysis for particles collected on quartz filters. The number of particles on the filters was insufficient for analysis either because of the collection parameters used or because of the loss of particles during transport. As a result, in the next step, the use of 9 mm Si filters using the GILAIRPLUS pump at an airflow rate of 2l/min was chosen.To improve the transport conditions and avoid the loss of the particles and keep them on the surface of the filters, two methods were applied:- after weighing the filters were reintroduced into the collection pump holder;- a filtration system for airborne micro-nano plastics was designed and manufactured to selectively collect and transport PM10 and PM1 particles collected on SI filters.In both cases, SEM, Raman mapping, and GS-MS microscopy were used for analysis.Several times more PM10 than PM1 (74.5µg compared to 12.5 µg) was found. In all cases, both particles and fibers showed the same Raman fingerprint.The GS-MS analyses showed some contamination of the workspaces with particles other than the processed fibers. The presence of non-notifiable substances was also observed.The most viable filters are Si filters with a pore size of 10 microns to 1 micron and the use of the selected collection and transport filter system. In the following a filter system will be applied for collection on Au membrane-coated polycarbonate filters.
Keywords: micro and nano particles, concentration, collection, physical and structural analysis
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