Background Little is known about the potential for overexposure to respirable quartz in farming, in most parts of the world.
Objectives To measure respirable dust and quartz exposure of tractor operators on two medium-sized dry climate farms.
Methods This is a descriptive cross-sectional study design of dust exposure of four tractor operators. Farms were selected by convenience sampling. The MDHS 14/3 and FTIR MDHS 101 HSE methods were used to measure dust and to analyse the mass of quartz in dust, respectively.
Results Seventy respirable dust measurements were done. Respirable dust and quartz ranged from 0.01 to 2.88mg/m3 and 0.001 to 0.30mg/m3. All operators had at least one respirable quartz exposure above 0.1 mg/m3. Only 17% of respirable quartz concentrations were lower than the ACGIH TLV of 0.025 mg/m3.
Conclusion The potential for over-exposure to respirable quartz was demonstrated. There was a great deal of variability in these farms which has implications for sampling strategies for dust in farming.
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