Minimizing aerosol bone dust during autopsies

Jip M.E. Pluim, Arjo J. Loeve, Reza R.R. Gerretsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


When sawing bone for medical or medico-legal procedures, fine, airborne dust is produced (aerosols) that can pose a health hazard when inhaled. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of saw blade frequency and contact load, bone condition, test environment, and saw blade type, on the production of aerosol particles. A custom test setup was designed, manufactured and used in 8 bone sawing experiments, using a particle counter to determine the production of aerosol particles while varying the 5 chosen parameters. The number of counted particles was highest with higher saw blade frequencies, lower saw blade contact loads, in dry completely skeletonized bone compared to fresh bone, and using an electrical oscillating saw compared to hand-sawing. Under all conditions, the high amount of aerosol counted posed potential health risks. The ventilation system that we tested was adequate in removing the produced particles, but these high-tech systems are not always available in developing countries or emergency situations. The production of aerosols can be reduced by optimizing the sawing parameters. However, even the lowest number of aerosol particles counted during the current study was high enough to cause potential health risks to practitioners. Safety precautions should be taken, such as external ventilation, proper breathing gear, and adequate protocols, to truly minimize the risk in all bone sawing scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-407
JournalForensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aerosol
  • Autopsy
  • Biosafety
  • Bone dust
  • Pathology
  • Sawing parameters

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