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HHE determination report no. HHE-78-116-557, Commonwealth Trading Company, Stoughton, Massachusetts.
Moseley CL; Singal M; Murphy L
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HHE 78-116-557, 1979 Jan; :1-23
Environmental and medical surveys were conducted on August 16 and 17, 1978, to evaluate the potential for employee exposure to formaldehyde (50000) or other toxic substances in the workplace at the Commonwealth Trading Company (SIC-5137) in Stoughton, Massachusetts. The evaluation was requested by the employer on behalf of the approximately 225 affected employees. Airborne formaldehyde concentrations ranged from 0.04 to 0.73 parts per million (ppm), well below the 3ppm OSHA standard, but exceeding the irritative symptoms were compatible with the known effects of formaldehyde exposure. The authors conclude that employees were not exposed to a health hazard from chemicals during the survey. They also conclude that the pattern of results obtained from a detailed human factors questionnaire is indicative of stress induced mass psychogenic illness, triggered by low concentrations of formaldehyde vapor escaping from permanent press clothing. The authors recommend that engineering controls be implemented and work practices be changed to reduce the chance of employee exposure, that the temperature difference between the office area and the warehouse area be reduced on hot days, that the shipping doors be kept open whenever possible on hot days, that employees who experience problems be allowed to perform other jobs, that periodic wet mopping or vacuuming be done to reduce dustiness, and that sensitized employees not be allowed to become exposed to formaldehyde.
NIOSH-Author; HHE-78-116-557; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; Hazard-Unconfirmed; Region-1; Vapors; Respiratory-irritants; Air-contamination; Occupational-exposure; Temperature-regulation; Air-flow; Medical-monitoring; Author Keywords: formaldehyde; psychogenic illness
Field Studies; Health Hazard Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: December 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division