Health hazard evaluation report, HETA-2002-0306-2911, Warren Tech, Lakewood, CO.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a management request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at Warren Tech, a vocational/technical school located in Lakewood, Colorado. NIOSH was asked to investigate whether employee health complaints of headache, upper respiratory irritation, asthma, eye irritation, nausea, and dizziness were related to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from products used in vocational and technical programs that are taught in Building A of Warren Tech. According to management and employees, building-related health complaints first began in Building A in spring of 1999 when the building underwent construction and renovation. An opening conference and a building walkthrough survey was conducted on September 10, 2002. The building's air handling units were inspected and a tracer gas study was conducted to determine if VOCs from two suspected source areas (the print shop and cosmetology area) could be distributed to other areas of the building. Interviews were conducted with employees working in Building A, McLain High School and the Longview Temporary building. Air samples were collected for VOCs, acids, and methacrylates. Air sampling results (collected in 2002 and 2003) demonstrate that VOCs from printing operations are widely distributed throughout the first floor of the building by the ventilation system and to a lesser extent, to other areas on the second floor. Tracer gas and chemical smoke tests show that ceiling-mounted extraction fans installed in two areas of the cosmetology program either failed to maintain negative pressurization (as intended), or resulted in exhaust entrainment to other areas of the building. Employee complaints of upper respiratory irritation, headaches, eye irritation, nausea, dizziness, and exacerbation of asthma at Warren Tech, Building A, may be related to inhalation exposures of low level concentrations of various VOCs emitted from two sources: the print shop on the first floor, and the nail technology and cosmetology program on the second floor. Recommendations are included in this report to change the ventilation systems to control the distribution of VOCs in the indoor environment of Building A.