Size distribution of chromate paint aerosol generated in a bench-scale spray booth

Ann Occup Hyg. 2005 Jan;49(1):33-45. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/meh080. Epub 2004 Dec 13.


Spray painters are potentially exposed to aerosols containing hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] via inhalation of chromate-based paint sprays. Evaluating the particle size distribution of a paint spray aerosol, and the variables that may affect this distribution, is necessary to determine the site and degree of respiratory deposition and the damage that may result from inhaled Cr(VI)-containing paint particles. This study examined the effect of spray gun atomization pressure, aerosol generation source and aerosol aging on the size distribution of chromate-based paint overspray aerosols generated in a bench-scale paint spray booth. The study also determined the effect of particle bounce inside a Marple personal cascade impactor on measured size distributions of paint spray aerosols. Marple personal cascade impactors with a modified inlet were used for sample collection. The data indicated that paint particle bounce did not occur inside the cascade impactors sufficiently to affect size distribution when using uncoated stainless steel or PVC substrate sampling media. A decrease in paint aerosol mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) from 8.2 to 7.0 mum was observed as gun atomization pressure increased from 6 to 10 psi. Overspray aerosols were sampled at two locations in the spray booth. A downstream sampling position simulated the exposure of a worker standing between the painted surface and exhaust, a situation encountered in booths with multiple workers. The measured mean MMAD was 7.2 mum. The distance between the painted surface and sampler was varied to sample oversprays of varying ages between 2.8 and 7.7 s. Age was not a significant factor for determining MMAD. Overspray was sampled at a 90 degrees position to simulate a worker standing in front of the surface being painted with air flowing to the worker's side, a common situation in field applications. The resulting overspray MMAD averaged 5.9 mum. Direct-spray aerosols were sampled at ages from 5.3 to 11.7 s. Overspray and direct-spray results indicated that most of the change in aerosol size distribution occurred between the time the paint aerosol impacted the painted surface and the time the overspray became 2.8 s old. The overall mean MMAD of overspray in the study was 6.4 mum and may have been underestimated due to sampling efficiency biases. If inhaled by a worker, the overspray aerosols evaluated in this study would mostly deposit in the head airways region of the respiratory tract. Paint overspray aerosols contained Cr primarily in the Cr(VI) state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / pharmacokinetics
  • Aerosols / toxicity*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity
  • Chromates / pharmacokinetics
  • Chromates / toxicity*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Paint / toxicity*
  • Particle Size
  • Pressure
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Chromates