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Fast and simple assessment of surface contamination in operations involving nanomaterials

Clemente, Alberto, Jiménez, Raquel, Encabo, M. Mar, Lobera, M. Pilar, Balas, Francisco, Santamaria, Jesus
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.363 pp. 358-365
aerosols, detection limit, fluorescein, fluorescence, glass, gloves, lighting, nanoparticles, risk, ruthenium, scanning electron microscopy, silica, wavelengths
The deposition of airborne nanosized matter onto surfaces could pose a potential risk in occupational and environmental scenarios. The incorporation of fluorescent labels, namely fluorescein isotiocyanate (FITC) or tris-1,3-phenanthroline ruthenium (II) chloride (Ru(phen)3Cl2), into spherical 80-nm silica nanoparticles allowed the detection after the illumination with LED light of suitable wavelength (365 or 405 nm respectively). Monodisperse nanoparticle aerosols from fluorescently labeled nanoparticles were produced under safe conditions using powder generators and the deposition was tested into different surfaces and filtering media. The contamination of gloves and work surfaces that was demonstrated by sampling and SEM analysis becomes immediately clear under laser or LED illumination. Furthermore, nanoparticle aerosols of about 10⁵ nanoparticles/cm³ were alternatively fed through a glass pipe and personal protective masks to identify the presence of trapped nanoparticles under 405 nm or 365 nm LED light. This testing procedure allowed a fast and reliable estimation of the contamination of surfaces with nanosized matter, with a limit of detection based on the fluorescence emission of the accumulated solid nanoparticles of 40 ng of Ru(phen)3@SiO2 of silica per mg of non-fluorescent matter.