Workplace Measurements of Ultrafine Particles-A Literature Review

Ann Work Expo Health. 2017 Aug 1;61(7):749-758. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxx049.


Workers are exposed to ultrafine particles (UFP) in a number of occupations. In order to summarize the current knowledge regarding occupational exposure to UFP (excluding engineered nanoparticles), we gathered information on UFP concentrations from published research articles. The aim of our study was to create a basis for future epidemiological studies that treat UFP as an exposure factor. The literature search found 72 publications regarding UFP measurements in work environments. These articles covered 314 measurement results and tabled concentrations. Mean concentrations were compared to typical urban UFP concentration level, which was considered non-occupational background concentration. Mean concentrations higher than the typical urban UFP concentration were reported in 240 workplace measurements. The results showed that workers' exposure to UFP may be significantly higher than their non-occupational exposure to background concentration alone. Mean concentrations of over 100 times the typical urban UFP concentration were reported in welding and metal industry. However, according to the results of the review, measurements of the UFP in work environments are, to date, too limited and reported too heterogeneous to allow us to draw general conclusions about workers' exposure. Harmonization of measurement strategies is essential if we are to generate more reliable and comparable data in the future.

Keywords: exposure assessment; incidental nanoparticles; indoor air; nanoparticles; occupational exposure; particle exposure; ultrafine particles; work environment; workplace; workplace measurement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Particle Size*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis*
  • Workplace / standards


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Particulate Matter