OBJECTIVES--The geltape method is a new method for optical measurement of total amount of dust on surfaces. The objectives were to study the potential applicability of this method to measurements of work related cobalt exposure during painting of plates with cobalt dye. METHODS--Consecutive series of work related geltape prints were taken from surfaces inside and outside the ventilation cabins of two plate painters during two full working days. The amount of dust picked up by the geltapes was measured optically with a field monitor. Also, personal air samples were collected on filters at the different work processes. In the laboratory the contents of cobalt on the geltape prints and the filters were measured with inductive coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy. RESULTS--The key results were: (a) when the geltape prints were taken from surfaces inside the cabins the optically measured area of the geltapes covered with total dust (area (%)) correlated well with the chemically measured amount of cobalt present on the geltapes. Linear correlation coefficient (R2) was 0.91 for geltape prints taken on the floor and 0.94 for prints taken on the ceiling; (b) the cumulative airborne cobalt exposure, calculated from data on work related exposure by personal sampling, correlated with the area (%) of geltape prints taken from the ceiling of the cabin (R2 = 0.98); (c) the geltape method could be used to distinguish both between work processes with different levels of cobalt exposure, and between plate painters subjected to significant differences in airborne cobalt exposure. CONCLUSION--The geltape method could produce measures of the work related exposures as well as whole day exposure for cobalt. The geltape results correlated with measurements of personal airborne cobalt exposure. In this industry the profile of exposure is well-defined in time, and it seems reasonable to apply this fast and low cost method in routine exposure surveillance to obtain a more detailed description of the exposure than can be obtained by the use of airborne measurements only.
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