Quantitech Ltd., Gasmet Technologies’ UK representative, supplied gas analysers to help measure fumes and breakdown gas analysis of the Averies Recycling fire in Swindon in 2014.
Gasmet’s Fourier Transfer Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysers can singularly measure multiple gases simultaneously and are deployed in situations where workers or the public could potentially be at risk.
As a result, these gas analysers were used when a large fire broke out on 21st July 2014, at the recycling facility in Swindon, UK. As the situation developed, it became apparent that there was the potential for an extended burn time with possible impacts on the environment and public health.
The Gasmet FTIR analysers measure ambient gases, so non-heated versions of the device – the DX4030 or DX4040 – are employed by the multi-agency Air Quality Cell (AQC) and other hazardous incident investigation teams around the world.
The instrument draws in sample gas with a built-in pump through a handheld particle filter. The FTIR runs continuously, measuring time-weighted averages of user definable length from between one second to up to five minutes.
The device, which has a standard gas library of 25 different gases, can be made mobile with a Teflon coated backpack (left) so that the operator can detect hazardous gases on the move.
With the addition of Calcmet Pro software, the Gasmet FTIR can reference over 250 gases and accurately measure 50 – used primarily when unknown gases are encountered. Zero calibration with clean air or nitrogen (N2) once a day is the only calibration required, eliminating the need for carrier and special test gases.
The monitoring data and risk assessments highlighted and evaluated by the FTIR analysers and other governing bodies, showed that the Swindon fire was unlikely to have had an impact on the long-term health of the local community.
Identifying and determining the concentration of a wide range of gases is essential to the rapid assessment of the risk to the health of the public and to the environment posed by large fires
Phil Chappell, Air Quality Manager of the Environment Agency’s National Incident Management Services, summarised the advantages of the portable FTIR analysers in this situation, “The Gasmet DX4030 instruments we procured in 2009 are a critical component of our air quality major incident response service.”
“The ability to quickly deploy a single instrument capable of simultaneously identifying and determining the concentration of a wide range of gases is essential to the rapid assessment of the risk to the health of the public and to the environment posed by large fires, such as the one at Swindon.”
Other bodies contributed to the taming and analysis of the fire and its environment, including the Met Office, the Fire Service and the AQC, amongst others.
As a result of their work, there were no associated notifications to the NHS or Public Health England (PHE) of any increase in visits or calls to doctors and hospitals, and the number of complaints received was relatively small.
Quantitech specialises in the provision of the world’s leading environmental monitoring and occupational hygiene testing equipment.