Rapid Detection of Transition Metals in Welding Fumes Using Paper-Based Analytical Devices

Metals in particulate matter (PM) are considered a driving factor for many
pathologies. Despite the hazards associated with particulate metals, personal
exposures for at-risk workers are rarely assessed due to the cost and effort
associated with monitoring. As a result, routine exposure assessments are
performed for only a small fraction of the exposed workforce.

The objective of this research -published in the Annals of Occupational Hygiene
- was to evaluate a relatively new technology, microfluidic paper-based
analytical devices (µPADs), for measuring the metals content in welding fumes.
Fumes from three common welding techniques (shielded metal arc, metal inert
gas, and tungsten inert gas welding) were sampled in two welding shops.
Concentrations of acid-extractable Fe, Cu, Ni, and Cr were measured and
independently verified using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission
spectroscopy (ICP-OES).

Results from the µPAD sensors agreed well with ICP-OES analysis; the two
methods gave statistically similar results in >80% of the samples analyzed.
Analytical costs for the µPAD technique were ~50 times lower than market-rate
costs with ICP-OES. Further, the µPAD method was capable of providing same-day
results (as opposed several weeks for ICP laboratory analysis). Results of this
work suggest that µPAD sensors are a viable, yet inexpensive alternative to
traditional analytic methods for transition metals in welding fume PM.

These sensors have potential to enable substantially higher levels of hazard
surveillance for a given resource cost, especially in resource-limited

Further Information: - Source: The Annals of Occupational Hygiene