Personal and area air samples were analyzed for n-hexane (110543), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (71556), methylene-chloride (75092), ethanol (64175), benzene (71432), methyl-isobutyl-ketone (108101), toluene (108883), and xylene (1330207) at ABT Associates (SIC-2750), in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 11, 1980, and medical questionnaires and examinations were conducted with the five shop employees on January 9 and 30, 1981. The shop manager requested the evaluation on behalf of five affected workers. N-hexane concentrations ranged from 1.0 to 14.3 parts per million (ppm), compared with the OSHA standard of 500ppm, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane concentrations were below the OSHA standard of 350ppm, ranging from 2.4 to 114.0 ppm. Methylene-chloride samples were in the range of 6.3 to 445.7ppm, under the OSHA standard of 500ppm. Ethanol concentrations were from 7.6ppm to 139.6ppm, compared with the OSHA standard of 1000ppm. Benzene was not detected. Methyl-isobutyl- ketone concentrations ranged from 0.5 to 21.5ppm, below the OSHA standard of 100ppm. Toluene and xylene concentrations ranged from respective OSHA standards of 200ppm and 100ppm. Medical interviews revealed several reports of neurologic symptoms including transient numbness and tingling of hands, dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea, skin irritation, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Performance decrements over the Friday workday were seen on difficult items of the neuropsychological tests. Neurological physical exams, and hematological profiles for the workers were normal. The author concludes that although no chronic health impairment was found, the acute symptoms experienced by the print shop workers were work related and were associated with the solvent exposures. He recommends balancing the shop ventilation system, restricted use of solvents, worker education, the use of barrier creams, and other ventilation modifications.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, Cincinnati, Ohio, 19 pages, 6 references