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Occupational exposures to heavy metals at a Bolivian smelter.

Authors
NIOSH
Source
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 1996 Jul; 11(7):591-595
NIOSHTIC No.
00235028
Abstract
The results of an industrial hygiene survey of heavy metal exposures at a smelter in Oruro, Bolivia were summarized. The survey was conducted in March 1994 by NIOSH, Bolivian public health personnel, and the Pan American Health Organization because of concerns about hazardous metal exposures, particularly to arsenic (7440382) and lead (7439921), at the smelter. Breathing zone samples were collected and analyzed for arsenic, lead, antimony (7440360), bismuth (7440699), cadmium (7440439), iron (7439896), tin (7440315), and zinc (7440666). Hazardous exposures to arsenic, cadmium, lead, and antimony were detected, the peak breathing zone concentrations being 390, 230, 280, and 4,500 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3), respectively. No overexposure to the other metals was detected. Sulfur-dioxide (7446095) exposures ranged up to 31 parts per million (ppm). Lead and arsenic concentrations as high as 5,210 and 7,342 microgram per gram (microg/g) were measured in settled dust samples collected throughout the facility. No significant accumulation of lead or arsenic in drinking water samples was detected. The blood lead and urine arsenic concentrations varied from 13 to 54microg per deciliter (microg/dl) and from below 1 to 260microg/g creatinine, respectively. The mean concentrations were 19ug/dl and 78microg/g. A review of the facility's respirator program found that the respirators provided were inadequate, and respirators in high exposure areas were not always consistently or properly used. The NIOSH investigators concluded that the smelter's program to control worker exposures to heavy metals and sulfur- dioxide was not adequate. Recommendations for reducing hazardous exposures at the facility include more thoroughly assessing occupational exposures to heavy metals and sulfur-dioxide, improving the respirator protection program, improving housekeeping practices, and implementing a medical surveillance program for the workers.
Keywords
NIOSH-Author; Heavy-metals; Metalloids; Smelting; Industrial-hygiene; Dust-analysis; Occupational-exposure; Dust-exposure; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Toxic-gases
CODEN
AOEHE9
CAS No.
7440-38-2; 7439-92-1; 7440-36-0; 7440-69-9; 7440-43-9; 7439-89-6; 7440-31-5; 7440-66-6; 7446-09-5
Publication Date
19960701
Document Type
Journal Article
Editors
Tharr-D
Fiscal Year
1996
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Issue of Publication
7
ISSN
1047-322X
Source Name
Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
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