Abstract

Occupational exposure to airborne wood dust has been implicated in the development of several symptoms and diseases, including nasal carcinoma. However, the assessment of occupational wood dust exposure is usually performed by gravimetric analysis, which is non-specific. In this study, a mid-infrared (mid-IR) diffuse reflection method was adapted for direct on-filter determination of wood dust mass. The cup from the diffuse reflection unit was replaced with a horizontal translational stage and a filter with wood dust was set thereon. Diffuse reflection (DR) spectra were collected from filters with six different diameters in order to average the signal from the most filter surface. Two absorption bands around 1595 and 1510 cm<sup>−1</sup>, attributed to lignin, were monitored for quantitative analysis. Calibration curves were constructed for standard extrathoracic red oak and yellow pine (aerodynamic particle diameters between 10 and 100 μm). Calibration of DR intensity versus known wood dust mass on the filter using the Kubelka–Munk function showed a nonlinear dependence for mass of less than 10 mg of wood dust. The experimental data and small-thickness samples indicate that Kubelka–Munk conditions are not obeyed. Alternatively, the pseudo-absorption function log(1/<i>R</i>), for which <i>R</i> is the relative reflectance, while still giving nonlinear dependence against mass, is closer to a linear dependence and has been preferred by other researchers. Therefore, we consider the use of the log(1/<i>R</i>) function for mid-infrared DR analysis of neat, small-thickness wood dust samples. Furthermore, we suggest the use of a silver metal membrane filter for direct on-filter analysis of wood dust rather than the glass fiber filters that have been used previously.

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