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Occupational exposure to arsine. An epidemiologic reappraisal of current standards.

Landrigan-PJ; Costello-RJ; Stringer-WT
Scand J Work, Environ & Health 1982 Sep; 8(3):169-177
An industrial hygiene and medical survey was conducted at a lead acid battery manufacturing facility to evaluate arsenic (7440382) absorption in workers with chronic occupational exposure. Personal breathing zone exposures to arsine (7784421) were measured, and area air concentrations of arsenic-trioxide (1327533) were determined. Tap water samples were also analyzed for arsenic. Twenty four hour urine samples were assayed for arsenic concentrations. Breathing zone arsine concentrations ranged from less than the limit of detection to 49 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3). The highest mean exposures were found in battery formation job categories: process attendants (20.6microg/m3), power spin operators (14.5microg/m3), and conveyor formation handlers (13.7microg/m3). Arsenic concentrations in air samples ranged from less than the limit of detection to 5.1microg/m3. The highest mean exposures were found for assembly line (0.9microg/m3), element battery repair (0.87microg/m3), and salvage workers (0.69microg/m3). No arsenic was detectable in drinking water samples. Eleven percent of the workers had urinary arsenic concentrations of 50microg per liter or above. All workers with these high arsenic concentrations were employed in production areas, with the highest mean urinary arsenic concentration found among battery formation workers. The authors conclude that arsine exposure is an occupational hazard in the manufacture of lead acid storage batteries. The likelihood of arsine exposure is greatest during electrical formation, when lead/arsenic alloy comes into contact with battery acid. The current OSHA standard of 200microg/m3 does not prevent chronic increased absorption of trivalent arsenic from the inhalation of arsine. A downward revision of the OSHA arsine exposure standard is suggested to make it compatible with those for other arsenical compounds.
NIOSH-Author; Exposure-levels; Bioassays; Occupational-hazards; Physiological-response; Industrial-hygiene; Air-sampling; Epidemiology; Industrial-medicine
7440-38-2; 7784-42-1; 1327-53-3
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Journal Article
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Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health