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Essay Paper on Calibration of Air Monitors

by Cerys Barnes

A safe working environment is essential to maintaining productivity and efficiency in the workplace. One of those areas that can be overlooked is the quality of air. People may not  be aware of the presence of hazardous gases that cannot be detected with the human senses. This is why it is necessary to have properly functioning air monitor equipment that are maintained on a daily basis.

The purpose of the air monitor is to measure the safety of air breathed in a certain space. Testing of equipment can be done through calibration. Calibration is how people measure the accuracy of the device for reading hazardous gases. (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2004)  They detect a concentration of gas in the air by comparing the instruments sensors to the response generated by a calibration gas of a known concentration. The way the instrument responds to the calibration gas gives a measurement that can be referred to.

Calibration of monitoring systems must include correction for operation at reduced pressures referred to as the correction factor. (OSHA, 2004) Newer systems have built in components that allow this but older components require manual adjustment. One example is the aggregate correction factor for air quality of newly manufactured concrete. Aggregates in pores in concrete may read a higher air content than the actual concrete because air is compressed is a different level in pores rather than the actual paste. (Iowa Department of Transportation, 2010)

There are many hazardous gases that air monitors check for. Pollutants and high concentrations of ozone can cause health problems for workers not carefully monitored. It is important to test an instrument when is first received from a manufacturer or vendor to make sure the instrument is working properly to required standards. Some manufacturers may or may not conduct tests to see if they are working. Instruments have delicate sensor and electronics that can deteriorate in a storage area if not used over a period of time. Dust and dirt can get into an instrument affecting its ability. Receiving an item new out of the box is no guarantee it will work.

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Iowa Department of Transportation.(2010). Air Content Of Freshly Mixed Concrete By Pressure Retrieved from http://www.iowadot.gov/erl/current/IM/content/318.pdf
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2004). Verification of Calibration for Direct Reading Portable Gas Monitors. Retrieved from http://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib050404.html

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