Health evaluation and technical assistance report: HETA-81-422- 1387, California Society for Histotechnology, Los Angeles, California.
Worker exposure to histology chemicals was investigated in October and November, 1981 and May, June, and September, 1982 at 13 histology laboratories (SIC-0807) in the Los Angeles, California area. The evaluation was requested by the President of the California Society for Histotechnology on behalf of technicians reporting various respiratory and behavior symptoms they associated with workplace exposures. Medical questionnaires were administered to 94 technicians and 25 completed pulmonary function tests, neurobehavioral function tests and dermatologic examinations. Environmental samples were collected for formaldehyde (50000), chloroform (67663), xylene (1330207), and toluene (108883). The technicians reported a significant frequency of symptoms such as chest tightness, coughing, eye and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and skin irritations. These symptoms increased with age and duration of exposure, and were related to work periods. Concentrations of xylene and toluene were below respective OSHA limits of 300 and 500 parts per million (ppm). Formaldehyde concentrations ranged from 0 to 1.9ppm, below the OSHA limit of 2ppm but above the NIOSH recommendation of lowest feasible limit. Concentrations of chloroform ranged from 2.7 to 19.1ppm for a 60 minute ceiling, above the NIOSH limit of 2ppm; no OSHA standard was given for chloroform. The authors conclude that health hazards exist from formaldehyde and chloroform. They recommend increased use of exhaust ventilation, use of respiratory protection, and periodic environmental monitoring.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-81-422-1387, 47 pages, 14 references