Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-88-377-2120, ARMCO Coke Oven, Ashland, Kentucky.
In response to a request from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, a study was made of possible hazardous working conditions at ARMCO Coke Oven (SIC-3312), Ashland, Kentucky. The facility produces about 1,000,000 tons of coke annually. Of the approximately 400 total employees at the coke oven site, 55 work in the by products area. Air quality sampling results indicated overexposure to both benzene (71432) and coal tar pitch volatiles (CTPVs). Airborne levels of benzene ranged as high as 117 parts per million (ppm) with three of 17 samples being above the OSHA limit of 1ppm. Airborne concentrations of CTPVs ranged as high as 0.38mg/m3 with two of six readings being above OSHA limit of 0.2mg/m3. Several polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons were also detected. The authors conclude that by products area workers are potentially overexposed to carcinogens, including benzene, CTPVs, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. An epidemiologic study is considered unlikely to yield meaningful information at this time, due to the small number of workers and the short follow up period. The authors recommend specific measures for reducing potential employee exposures, including an environmental sampling program, a preventive maintenance program, improved housekeeping procedures, and reducing exposure in operators' booths.