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Technical Assistance Report No. TA-78-058-864, Texas Boot Company, Hartsville, Tennessee.

White GL; Thoburn TW; Colligan MJ
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, TA 78-058-864, 1981 Apr; :1-33
Environmental and personal samples were analyzed for benzene (71432), cellosolve (110805), n-butyl-acetate (123864), methyl-ethyl- ketone (78933), isopropyl-alcohol (67630), and petroleum-naphtha (8030306), at the Texas Boot Company (SIC-3149) in Hartsville, Tennessee, during August and October, 1978 to ascertain the causes of an epidemic of dizziness, nausea, and fainting among employees. The evaluation was requested by the Tennessee Division of Occupational Safety and Health on behalf of approximately 501 employees. Medical interviews and psychological tests were administered to the workers. One personal sample for benzene and one for petroleum-naphtha exceeded the respective OSHA standards of 3.2 and 350 milligrams per cubic meter. All other exposures were within acceptable limits. Most reported medical symptoms were consistent with the hyperventilation syndrome which usually results from anxiety. The psychological evaluation suggested a relationship between life and job stresses and symptom outbreak. The greatest source of stress appeared to involve the physical aspects of pressure and unwanted overtime, and were consistent with previous reports of mass illness with apparent psychogenic components. Review of the epidemic suggested that the outbreak was precipitated by the odor of mercaptans when a new tank was added to the gas lines. Other contributing factors included other unfamiliar odors and organic solvent vapors, noise, crowding, poor illumination, inadequate ventilation, air pollution, improper work practices, media publicity, and possibly job and familial stress. The authors conclude that the epidemic of dizziness, nausea, and fainting at this facility was due to the environmental and psychological factors. They recommend the exercise of good personal hygiene, the development of a health and safety program, and control measures to minimize adverse chemical exposures.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; TA-78-058-864; Region-4; Hazards-Confirmed; Health-surveys; Industrial-hygiene; Air-sampling; Psychological-disorders; Psychological-stress; Psychological-factors
71-43-2; 110-80-5; 123-86-4; 78-93-3; 67-63-0; 8030-30-6
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Field Studies; Technical Assistance
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Priority Area
Psychologic Disorders; Psychological-disorders
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: February 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division