IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail


A new inhalable metals particulate analysis service is available in the IRSST laboratories. The metals that can be determined are the same as those sampled as total dust, meaning on closed cassette (25 or 37 mm), and analyzed using IRSST method 362, or IRSST method 359 for beryllium. The inhalable fraction of airborne dusts is described in section 2.3 Aerosolsof the IRSST's Sampling guide for air contaminants in the workplace (available in French only, but will be in English in the near future). Sampling is done with an IOM (Institute of Occupational Medicine) sampler and the metals are determined by ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry).

The IOM sampler, which is shown in Figure 1, consists of a black plastic sampling head in which is inserted a plastic cassette containing a mixed cellulose ester (MCE) filter. This sampler corresponds to IRSST equipment code 928 and is different from the one that uses the stainless steel IOM cassette (code 907) on which metals cannot be analyzed. An operating procedure on the use of this type of sampler will be provided when the equipment is ordered.

The cassette and the filter mounted in the IOM sampler, code 928, are not preweighed. As a result, no gravimetric analysis (weight measurement) can be done on this equipment.

Technical information/parameters

Equipment code: 928
Filter: MCE, 25 mm, porosity 0.8 μm
Cassette: plastic IOM, 15 mm orifice
Prescribed flow rate: 2.0 L/min
Recommended sampling volume: >180 litres
Analysis time: 15 working days.
Minimum reported value (MRV) and CVA: See IRSST Web site

Note: Beryllium requires specific sampling and cannot be determined on the same sample as other metals.


Metals analyzed on IOM cassette





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Reference values

No permissible exposure value in the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RROHS) is expressed as an inhalable fraction for metals. The purpose of the implementation of an analytical service for inhalable metals particulate is to improve the evaluation of the workplace risk of metals with adverse effects on the upper respiratory tract. The sampling and analysis of inhalable metals particulate must therefore be done in a context where the presence of such metals has been well documented in the scientific literature or other occupational hygiene publications.

Requests for analyses

The IOM samplers available in the laboratory are limited in number and require considerable cleaning and preparation time compared to closed 25 or 37 mm polystyrene cassettes which are single use. Consequently, occupational hygienists and technologists or clients interested in evaluating metals as an inhalable fraction will have to obtain the approval of SAC-labo (Laboratory customer service) before ordering IOM samplers.

Professionals in the MSSS (Québec department of health and social services) network have access to this analysis in SISAT. For clients outside the network, an environmental requisition form must be completed by entering the metal(s) to be analyzed, specifying inhalable fraction in the "substance requested" column.

If you have any questions, please contact the IRSST's customer service.


Pierre Larivière, M.Sc.
Scientific professional
Laboratory Division

Simon Aubin, M.Sc., CIH, ROH
Chemist, industrial hygienist
Scientific professional
Laboratory Division

Figure 1. IOM sampler, equipment code 928

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