Indexed on: 27 Aug '99Published on: 27 Aug '99Published in: Applied occupational and environmental hygiene
This article describes a unique analytical tool to assist the development and implementation of engineering controls for the asphalt paving industry. Through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assist U.S. manufacturers of asphalt paving equipment with the development and evaluation of engineering controls. The intended function of the controls was to capture and remove asphalt emissions generated during the paving process. NIOSH engineers developed a protocol to evaluate prototype engineering controls using qualitative smoke and quantitative tracer gas methods. Video recordings documented each prototype's ability to capture theatrical smoke under "managed" indoor conditions. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), released as a tracer gas, enabled quantification of the capture efficiency and exhaust flow rate for each prototype. During indoor evaluations, individual prototypes' capture efficiencies averaged from 7 percent to 100 percent. Outdoor evaluations resulted in average capture efficiencies ranging from 81 percent down to 1 percent as wind gusts disrupted the ability of the controls to capture the SF6. The tracer gas testing protocol successfully revealed deficiencies in prototype designs which otherwise may have gone undetected. It also showed that the combination of a good enclosure and higher exhaust ventilation rate provided the highest capture efficiency. Some manufacturers used the stationary evaluation results to compare performances among multiple hood designs. All the manufacturers identified areas where their prototype designs were susceptible to cross-draft interferences. These stationary performance evaluations proved to be a valuable method to identify strengths and weaknesses in individual designs and subsequently optimize those designs prior to expensive analytical field studies.