Personal Air Sampling Field Records
Collecting a personal air sample without recording the proper field data may prove to fall short of the goal, and it can even lead to a sample being re-run completely. A simple field notebook with hand written entries is all that is really required to implement this portion of the air sampling program.
A field record should be as thorough as possible. It is a historical document and may have to be accessed in the future, possibly even several decades after the sample was taken. Occupational disease is often slow to develop, and an illness investigation may include historical data for a retired person’s entire work career. For this reason, care must be taken to be as thorough as possible in assembling field data.
A field data sheet should include information on the person sampled, the job class and specific job tasks that are involved with that particular sample as well as the time frame, environmental conditions, target substance, the sampling hardware, calibration and test data and procedures followed.
The person should be identified by name (correctly spelled) as well as an employee number (if one is assigned) and by his or her social security number. The identification numbers become very important historically if the company winds up employing two people with the same name. If more than one location is involved in the record process, the location should be identified (e.g., Mount Pleasant phosphorus plant). The job title and department should be stated (e.g., furnace operator, production department) and special job tasks noted (e.g., furnace electrode replaced). A sketch of the work area showing the location of potential exposure points is helpful.
Any field data sheet should include the date and time of the sample (i.e., start and end time for the pump). Using real time (military or standard) will also help to indicate samples taken on different work shifts. Environmental conditions should be noted, especially if the sample is taken outdoors. This should include temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. This allows the test results to be mathematically corrected to standard conditions. Even if such corrections are not planned for the immediate sampling report, someone else may want to do this later.
Sampling pumps should be identified by the factory serial number or internal identification numbering system. This information will also aid in the maintenance program for the pumps. Serial numbers should also be assigned to the sampling media and that number recorded. Similarly, the serial number should be recorded for the airflow calibrator (e.g., Gilibrator) as well as the date of the unit’s last factory calibration. The flow rates representing the pre and post-sample airflow verifications should be recorded along with the pump’s start and end times.
The target substance and sample type should be identified (e.g., Lead, personal sample). A reference should be included as to the sampling protocol that is being followed (e.g., NIOSH 7300) and also for the laboratory protocol if the two are different. The laboratory results should also be recorded and the calculated air sample volume shown (i.e., flow rate x sample time = sample volume). Applying those two values, the airborne concentration should be shown (e.g., lab reported weight / sample volume). Lastly, the sheet should include the signature of the person conducting the test for proper accountability.
Incorporating the items above into a field record sheet should cover most field applications. A sample of a generic field-sampling sheet appears in the figure above and should serve to help in designing a field sheet specific for most any situation. Recording the pertinent field data is an important part of any personal air-sampling program, and care should be taken to make the sampling records as thorough as possible.