Worker exposures to coal tar pitch volatiles (CPTV) were surveyed on October 14, 1980 at the New York Port Authority (SIC-1629) in Brooklyn, New York. The evaluation was requested by a representative of the Carpenters Union, Local 1456, on behalf of six workers engaged in pile driving creosote preserved wood logs for a dock underpinning. Personal and area air samples were collected, and workers were given skin examinations. Breathing zone CPTV concentrations ranged up to 0.06 milligram per cubic meter (mg/cu m), and area CPTV concentrations ranged up to 0.02mg/cu m. These concentrations were below the NIOSH recommended limit of 0.1mg/cu m, however weather conditions on the sampling day probably caused substantial reductions in exposure. The workers reported episodes of skin irritation, rashes, erythema, cracking, and swelling. These symptoms generally increased on warm sunny days. The authors conclude that on typical days workers may be exposed to significant amounts of CPTV. CPTV, including creosote, has been shown to be carcinogenic, and all exposures should be minimized. Recommendations are included for improvements in engineering controls, work practices, use of protective equipment, workplace hygiene, personal hygiene, and medical and environmental monitoring. The authors also recommend a long term study on the health effects of creosote exposure.
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