Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0108-2818, United States Forest Service Deschutes National Forest, Bend, Oregon.
On January 5, 2000, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) from the United States Forest Service (USFS), Region 6, Office of Natural Resources. The request listed nausea, rashes, headaches, and dizziness as symptoms reported by Foresters who use a water-based tree-marking paint (TMP) to mark trees in National Forests. During the week of June 19, 2000, NIOSH industrial hygienists conducted an exposure assessment for airborne metals, hydrocarbons (including methyl ethyl ketone [MEK] and toluene), and propylene glycol during tree-marking activities in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon. The conditions under which the HHE was conducted included high ambient temperature (over 80°F), low relative humidity (<30%), and work-crew sizes of 8-9 per day. Personal exposures to hydrocarbons, metals, and propylene glycol were all very low. MEK and toluene were undetected in personal breathing zone samples. None of the symptoms reported in the HHE request (nausea, dizziness, headaches) were reported by the work crew observed during this HHE, nor did they report experiencing such symptoms in the past while working. It is concluded that using the type of tree-marking paint evaluated in this HHE under these conditions does not present a health hazard to the work crews. Exposures to MEK and to toluene were below the analytical limits of detection. Exposures to metals, propylene glycol, and total hydrocarbons were generally several orders of magnitude below the most conservative occupational exposure criteria. These work conditions were not hazardous to the health of the workers.