HHE Report No. HHE-80-025-989, U.S. Steel, Tubing Specialties, Gary, Indiana.
Environmental and breathing zone air samples were analyzed for sulfuric-acid (7664939) at United States Steel, Tubing Specialties (SIC-3317), in Gary, Indiana, on February 12 to 13, 1980, and on August 6, 1981. Followup medical surveys were conducted in October 1980 and January 1981. A representative of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 2697, requested the evaluation on behalf of approximately 16 affected workers. Sulfuric-acid concentrations ranged from none detected to 0.97 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/Cum), compared with OSHA standard of 1mg/Cum. Medical questionnaires revealed significant irritative effects from exposure to sulfuric-acid mist. Of 14 present and three past employees interviewed, 94 percent reported mucous membrane irritation, 65 percent reported shortness of breath, 71 percent reported chronic cough, and 88 percent complained of chronic sputum production. Pulmonary function test results were within normal limits. The authors conclude that a potential health hazard from exposure to sulfuric-acid mist existed at this facility. They recommend the regulation of acid strength and temperature, proper use of the inhibitor and foaming agents, consideration of exhaust ventilation implementation, proper distancing of workers from sulfuric-acid tanks, and the installation of an air filtration system in the east side crane cab.
Hazard Evaluaton and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio, 15 pages, 14 references