Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-81-207-945, Metropolitan Sewer District, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Environmental air samples were analyzed for organic solvents, and workers were interviewed at the Metropolitan Sewer District (SIC- 4952) in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 23, and March 2, 3, and 23, 1981. The evaluation was requested by the City Health Commissioner following worker exposures and illness due to unknown contaminants while excavating a corroded sewer drain in an industrial area of the city. Seven organic solvents were found in the sewers. 1,1,1- trichloroethane (71556) concentrations ranged from 1.0 to 40.0 parts per million (ppm), compared with the permissible exposure limit of 350ppm. Trichloroethylene (79016) concentrations ranged from 0.4 to 7.3 ppm, compared with the OSHA standard of 100ppm. Concentrations of toluene (108883) found in the range of nondetectable to 1.0ppm were below the OSHA standard of 200 ppm. Mineral-spirits (8032324) ranged from 20 to 517ppm, compared with the NIOSH standard of 350 milligrams per cubic meter. Perchloroethylene (127184) concentrations ranged from nondetectable to 1.6ppm, well below the OSHA standard of 100ppm. Xylene (1330207) concentrations were also well below the OSHA standard of 100ppm. Chlorobenzene (108907) concentrations ranged from none detected to 0.2ppm, compared with the OSHA standard of 75ppm. Medical interviews revealed that 46 workers were exposed to sewer contaminants, 27 of which were symptomatic. Eight had liver function test abnormalities, and six had hematologic test abnormalities. Twenty eight workers reported mucous membrane irritation. The authors conclude that a health hazard from overexposure to industrial solvents existed during the sewer repair operation. They recommend worker training, use of appropriate respiratory protection, engineering controls to reduce exposure, medical surveillance of affected workers, improved worker safety procedures, and other safety measures.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio, 35 pages, 1 reference