In an effort to use resources more efficiently, breathing air hoses used by workers who make toxic area entries at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant are being sampled every 24 hours instead of every 12 hours.
“After collecting and reporting air samples for six months during agent operations, the plant’s laboratory now has enough data to demonstrate that reducing the frequency of air monitoring will not negatively impact the health and safety of entrants,” said Mark Langlois, senior industrial hygienist, PCAPP.
Air hoses are sampled and analyzed for mustard agent. Readings are used to make decisions on when to change out hoses. PCAPP Laboratory results demonstrate it takes anywhere from four days to two weeks for mustard to permeate the hoses and reach removal levels, said Langlois.
“Removing hoses from service at 20 percent of the Worker Population Limit [an airborne exposure limit expressed as a time-weighted average, a calculation of a worker’s daily exposure to a hazardous substance] protects employees from overexposure and prevents any potential heath effect,” Langlois said. “Testing once a day and removing hoses from service early is conservative and protective of PCAPP employees.”
As the plant moves from pilot testing to full scale operations, staff continue to seek opportunities for improvement. The reduction in air hose sampling will help free up instrument time to continue to process samples from other areas of the plant.
“We are constantly looking at ways to become more efficient,” Langlois said. “We have proven that we can streamline measurements and still keep our people safe.”