RR1149 - Monitoring metal working fluid mist using particle counters: summary of a technical workshop
Machine workshops use water-based metal working fluids (MWF) to cool cutting machines but this can release a mist of MWF. Machinists inhaling this mist are at risk of developing chronic lung disease. To reduce this risk, key actions are maintaining MWF quality and minimising exposure to mist. Monitoring mist is important to identify those at risk of exposure. However, the analytical method used in the UK to monitor MWF mist is now used infrequently due to changes in the composition of new MWFs.
This report summarises a knowledge sharing workshop on the use of particle monitors as an alternative to monitoring mist. These are known as Direct Reading Aerosol Monitors (DRAMs). The workshop included experts in machining, lubricants, industrial hygiene and particle measurement. Organisations that had evaluated DRAMs presented case studies. HSE scientists also presented a laboratory study of different DRAMs tested using a standardised MWF mist.
The workshop participants concluded that:
- DRAMs can provide a relative measurement of changes to MWF mist but not reliable quantitative measurements.
- However, dust lamps and smoke generators are also practical methods to visualise MWF mist, and more affordable for small workshops.
- An evaluation in machine workshops of DRAMs alongside dust lamps and smoke generators is required.
Assistance in the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files is available on our FAQs page.