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Know What You Are Sampling For

Personal monitoring badges, which can monitor for various chemicals, are readily available from a variety of vendors. These monitoring badges are worn on the lapel of an employee’s lab coat to monitor for potential chemical exposures in the breathing zone.

It can be tempting to purchase these personal monitoring badges and randomly use them to obtain an idea of what the exposure levels are. Some people think it is a good idea to place these badges on pieces of equipment or in areas where they feel exposures levels are high, rather than using them on individuals. Please remember that it is critical to know what you are sampling for any time sampling or monitoring is conducted.

Prior to conducting any monitoring, a thorough monitoring plan should be developed that outlines the work that will be conducted while the monitoring takes place. Specific details including the volumes of chemicals in use and specific work practices that will be followed should be outlined in the plan. All monitoring should take place on individuals rather than in areas. After all, you are trying to obtain data about the exposures in an individual’s breathing zone, not what an exposure level would be two inches in front of a piece of equipment for eight hours.

Once the monitoring plan is developed, it must be strictly adhered to during the monitoring event. Any deviations should be recorded and the time frame that the badges are worn should be documented. Conducting monitoring without a detailed monitoring plan can lead to situations where data shows elevated exposure levels without details of the sources.

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