ASSESSING THE EXPOSURE OF CHIPPER OPERATORS TO WOOD DUST IN A ROADSIDE LANDING AREA
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Due to recent high emission values and increasing public demands for renewable energy, many countries have promoted biomass use instead of fossil originated fuel consumption. Wood chipping operation is one of the most popular biomass processing techniques. In recent years, there has been an interest in using mechanization in forestry, especially in wood chipping in Turkey. There are very limited number of studies on the productivity of wood chipping operations in Turkey, and the potential effects of operation and work environment on chipper operators have not been studied properly. In particular, wood dust exposure may result in serious occupational illness such as lung cancer, asthma, skin and eye irritations. This study investigated exposure of a wood chipper operator to wood dust during a chipping operation at the roadside landing. To measure dust exposure, a low-cost dust sensor mounted on the operator helmet was used, and real-time recorded measurements were examined statistically. The study showed that during the chipping operation in the open area, the operator was exposed to a dust density of 6.04 mg/m(3) over the 8 hours time average, which was above the legal limits of 5mg/m(3). Inhalable dust particle density averaged 0.055 mg/m(3) for each truck load produced. Although these figures were within the range reported by previous wood dust exposure studies conducted on chipper operators, exposure was still above the legal limit and may cause serious health problems. Thus, chipper operators should be instructed to use personnel protection equipment in order to prevent occupational disease.