BACKGROUND: Particulate matter (PM) exposure is an important health risk, both in daily life and in the workplace. It causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and results in 800,000 premature deaths per year worldwide. In earlier research, we assessed workers' information needs regarding workplace PM exposure, the properties and effects of PM, and the rationale behind various means of protection. We also concluded that workers do not always receive appropriate risk communication tools with regards to PM, and that their PM knowledge appears to be fragmented and incomplete.
METHODS: We considered several concepts for use as an educational material based on evaluation criteria: ease of use, costs, appropriateness for target audiences and goals, interactivity, implementation issues, novelty, and speed. We decided to develop an educational folder, which can be used to inform employees about the properties, effects and prevention methods concerning PM. Furthermore, we decided on a test setup of a more interactive way of visualisation of exposure to PM by means of exposimeters. For the development of the folder, we based the information needs on our earlier mental models-based research. We adjusted the folder based on the results of ten semi-structured interviews evaluating its usability.
RESULTS: The semi-structured interviews yielded commentaries and suggestions for further improvement, which resulted in a number of alterations to the folder. However, in most cases the folder was deemed satisfactory.
CONCLUSION: Based on this study, the folder we developed is suitable for a larger-scale experiment and a practical test. Further research is needed to investigate the efficacy of the folder and the application of the exposimeter in a PM risk communication system.