In this study, the synthesis of silicon carbide (SiC) nanoparticles in a prototype inductively coupled thermal plasma reactor and other supporting processes, such as the handling of precursor material, the collection of nanoparticles, and the cleaning of equipment, were monitored for particle emissions and potential worker exposure. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of engineering controls and best practice guidelines developed for the production and handling of nanoparticles, identify processes which result in a nanoparticle release, characterize these releases, and suggest possible administrative or engineering controls which may eliminate or control the exposure source. No particle release was detected during the synthesis and collection of SiC nanoparticles and the cleaning of the reactor. This was attributed to most of these processes occurring in closed systems operated at slight underpressure. Other tasks occurring in more open spaces, such as the disconnection of a filter assembly from the reactor system and the use of compressed air for the cleaning of filters where synthesized SiC nanoparticles were collected, resulted in releases of submicrometer particles with a mode size of ∼170-180 nm. Observation of filter samples under scanning electron microscope confirmed that the particles were agglomerates of SiC nanoparticles.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Grant No. 1RC2ES018741-01 (sub-Grant 100029-D) on ‘‘Hazard Assessment and Risk Estimation of Inhaled Nanomaterials Exposure’’ and the National Science Foundation grant (Award ID: 1056479) on ‘‘Real Time Measurement of Agglomerated or Aggregated Airborne Nanoparticles Released From a Manufacturing Process and Their Transport Characteristics.’’
- Emission monitoring
- Environmental, health and safety effects
- Inductively coupled plasma
- Occupational exposure
- Silicon carbide nanoparticles