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As you might know from my Youtube videos, I built myself a mighty metal dust collector. It seems to work alright but it made me wonder how I could test the quality of the air in my shop. I tried this laser illumination method:

 

IMG_20200919_113839.jpg

 

Has anyone here figured out how to measure the air quality in the shop?

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Well the canonical way I used to use back in the day when I certified Clean Rooms for electronics and pharmaceutical firms is using a particle counter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_counter ).  They used to be very expensive, and I doubt that has changed a whole lot in the last 20 or 30 years.  Of course there were less high tech methods that included things like putting out sampling trays that allow material to settle on them and physically counting the number of particles in a fixed area using a microscope, but i have no direct experience with them.

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Hi Dan, Particle Counters definitely seem like the the way to measure that. They are still very expensive, e.g. around $2000 for the cheapest version. Probably overkill for what I need. I like the non high tech method with the sampling tray. I will think about that.

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Big exhaust fan and a good dust mask would take of your problem.  I used to work in a shop that had a coal forge, Nazel hammer, stick welder and several 9" pneumatic grinders wailing away day long.  It got cold in there in upstate NY  in the winter but I think the breathing air through the masks was okay - no black buggers if you wore your stuff or at least not real black.  In CA, cold is not a real issue for you so get yourself a good exhaust fan and with good airflow don't overthink it.  If I recall from your videos, you are in a business park in sort of a garage door sort of space.  You need to be able to draw air in from one side and exhaust to the other which might be difficult or expensive in your space.  That said, particle counters are probably available on the used market for short money in your area but those things are going to show huge amounts of particulates in your air.  The folks that use them are looking for incredibly small amounts of crud in the air - stuff that will make a chip maker worry about yield rates.  You are not in that category.

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A low-brow homebrew method to give you relative measurements would be to rake a small fan with some sort of shroud over the inlet side that you can cover with a piece of filter paper.  Weigh the paper before and after running for a while with and without the dust collector on.

 

It won't give you a PPM type of result, but you could infer a % change in the air quality.

 

 

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I'd imagine you could use the laser you have, taking photos at the same location before and after to count the difference in highlighted particles for some rough measurements.

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