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NIOSH Program Portfolio

 

Manufacturing

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927ZCVA - Diaceytl Engineering Controls Research

Start Date: 10/1/2007
End Date: 9/30/2011

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Kevin Dunn
Phone: 513-841-4152
E-mail: kfd5@cdc.gov
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed
9.0

Secondary Goals Addressed
5.0 , 8.0


Attributed to Manufacturing
100%

Project Description

Short Summary

In California, following the diagnosis of bronchiolitis obliterans in two flavoring manufacturing employees, Cal/OSHA and California Department of Public Health initiated an industry-wide investigation of lung disease in flavoring manufacture. Previous NIOSH health hazard evaluations have documented this rare, respiratory disease within the popcorn industry. Severe obstructive lung disease has been recently documented in seven California workers who were involved in the production of flavorings. The flavoring industry which manufactures the flavoring compounds before distribution to end users has remained largely unstudied. Due to the complex mixed exposures within the industry and the absence of inhalation toxicology for most chemicals, an engineering, solution-based approach is being recommended. Objectives of this research are to develop and evaluate potential engineering controls for common processes within the flavoring and flavored food industries.



Description

Flavors are complex mixtures which enhance the taste, texture, and aroma of foods and confectionary items. Occupational exposures in the flavoring industry have been associated with respiratory disease, including bronchiolitis obliterans. Employees within the flavoring production industry have complex exposures in terms of the physical form of the agents (solid, liquid, and gas) and the number of different chemicals used. Although there are thousands of flavoring compounds in use, only a minority have occupational exposure limits.



The lack of exposure standards for many of these chemicals makes exposure assessment and control problematic. In addition, the many small producers in this industry often do not have adequate in-house occupational health expertise to address exposure control. Currently, there is no model or standard guidance for engineering control and, as a result, there are a wide range of systems in use, many with marginal effectiveness.



The principle aims of this project are to:



1) identify the primary processes involved in the production of flavorings and flavored foods;

2) evaluate the processes regarding exposure potential;

3) document the effectiveness of existing exposure control techniques and; and

4) identify areas where engineering controls need to be developed or improved.



The results of this study will be evaluated in terms of engineering control effectiveness measured by a variety of methods and by measuring personal exposures of workers who operate the equipment and area concentrations at various locations near the process under investigation. The long-term goals of this project are: 1) to provide field data to document the control effectiveness of common processes; 2) to determine if the engineering controls applied are adequate, and; 3) to develop a set of recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of control measures.



Both flavoring production facilities and flavored food production companies will be targeted for inclusion in this study. At each facility, a 1-2 day walkthrough evaluation will be conducted to collect preliminary data on facility design, production processes, potential exposure sources, and existing exposure controls. A 5 day comprehensive field study will follow at selected facilities to characterize the workplace, describe the processes and work practices, and evaluate exposure controls used at each facility. Information on processes and procedures will be obtained through discussions with management and labor representatives, and by visual observations of employees and processes. Use of personal protective equipment, engineering controls and work practices will be noted. A variety of methods will be used to evaluate the LEV systems. Initial characterization will include measuring exhaust flowrates, face (capture) velocity and slot velocity for each hood, if applicable. In addition to the face and slot velocity measurements, a smoke tracer will be used to evaluate the direction of the airflow and to assess the effect of secondary airflows on hood performance. Tracer gas tests and real-time exposure monitoring methods may also be performed to evaluate quantitative capture efficiency for each hood.



The translation of results will occur through several formats including: trade association communications, meetings, web sites, and publications; peer-reviewed literature; public meetings or workshops; and NIOSH documents and websites. The development of good engineering control and exposure assessment guidance will help inform regulatory decision making currently underway by Cal-OSHA and future activities by Federal OSHA.



Objectives

The principle objectives of this project are to:



1) identify the primary processes involved in the production of flavorings and flavored foods;

2) evaluate the processes regarding exposure potential;

3) document the effectiveness of existing exposure control techniques and; and

4) identify areas where engineering controls need to be developed or improved.



The results of this study will be evaluated in terms of engineering control effectiveness measured by a variety of methods and by measuring personal exposures of workers who operate the equipment and area concentrations at various locations near the process under investigation. Additional data to be collected include information about process design and performance, operating parameters, work practices, chemical content in flavorings and environmental conditions. The long-term goals of this project are: 1) to provide field data to document the control effectiveness of common processes; 2) to determine if the engineering controls applied are adequate, and; 3) to develop a set of recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of control measures.





Mission Relevance

NIOSH health hazard evaluations have identified bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare, respiratory disease in popcorn industry workers after exposure to diacetyl, a component of butter flavoring. Severe obstructive lung disease has also been recently documented in seven California workers who were involved in the production of flavorings. Employees within the flavoring production industry have complex exposures in terms of the physical form of the agents (solid, liquid, and gas) and the number of different chemicals used. Although there are thousands of flavoring compounds in use, only a small number have occupational exposure limits. There are very few data documenting occupational exposures in flavoring manufacturing, and the industry has remained largely unstudied. With the lack of occupational exposure limits for a majority of the thousands of flavoring chemicals, the development of exposure control guidance is critical to help reduce the risk of flavoring-related obstructive lung disease. Currently, there is no model or standard guidance for engineering control and, as a result, there are a wide range of systems in use, many with marginal effectiveness.

According to U.S. Census data from 2002, there were approximately 21,000 employees working in flavoring production. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) category 311 for the food manufacturing sector contains subcategories such as Flavoring Syrup and Concentrate Manufacturing (NAICS Code 311930) and Spice and Extract Manufacturing (NAICS Code 311942) which further categorize workers into specific industries. Under NAICS 311 nearly 1.5 million workers are employed in food manufacturing with the following subcategories that likely include flavorings in their products: 287,800 in Bakeries and Tortilla Manufacturing (NAICS 3118); 154,100 in Other Food Manufacturing (NAICS 3119); 132,000 in Dairy Product Manufacturing (NAICS 3115); and 83,700 in Sugar and confectionery product manufacturing (NAICS 3113). Flavoring products are sold to numerous food production facilities that yield a variety of foods. Food production employers are generally small business owners with 89 percent employing less than 100 workers and nearly 53 percent employing less than 10 workers.

Evaluation of exposure control approaches developed through this project will be performed to ensure they are effective. Health communications and dissemination activities will follow the conclusion of this project. Applied engineering controls could dramatically reduce occupational exposures in the flavoring industry and potentially prevent respiratory diseases among workers. An interdivisional team of NIOSH scientists from DART, DSHEFS and EID will develop a series of Workplace Solutions documents on the production and use of hazardous flavoring chemicals, including diacetyl. These documents will provide task-based engineering solutions to reduce exposure among workers in the flavorings and food production industries. These documents are intended to expand on the recommendations included in the document entitled NIOSH Alert: Preventing Lung Disease in Workers Who Use or Make Flavorings (Publication No. 2004–110). The proposed Workplace Solution documents will contain a detailed list of exposure controls that should be considered for manufacturing processes using hazardous liquid or powdered flavoring chemicals.

Intermediate activity/output program goals

1. A study protocol for exposure assessment, engineering controls and analytical method development for chemicals in the flavoring and food production industry was developed and reviewed in a public meeting in April 2008. Comments have been received from both peer reviewers and stakeholders and are currently being evaluated. Final protocol expected in Fall 2008.

2. Engineering control evaluations and recommendations have been completed as a part of two Health Hazard Evaluations at flavoring manufacturing companies--one additional HHE is ongoing at a third flavoring production company. Support for HHEs conducted in the field of flavoring production and use will continue.

3. Workplace Solutions documents will be developed for engineering controls in the primary food flavorings production processes.

4. In-depth engineering control evaluations will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of exposure controls in use at flavoring and food production companies.



Page last updated: June 3, 2011
Page last reviewed: May 23, 2011
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of the Director

 

NIOSH Program:

Manufacturing