Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-83-254-1393, United Uniform Manufacturing Company of Memphis, Inc., Memphis, Tennessee.
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 83-254-1393, 1983 Dec; :1-15
Worker exposures to formaldehyde (50000) were investigated on June 28 to 30, 1983 at The United Uniform Manufacturing Company of Memphis, Incorporated (SIC-2260) in Memphis, Tennessee. The evaluation was requested by Local 282, United Furniture Workers of America, on behalf of four post curing workers concerned about symptoms of headache, burning of the eyes, and sore throat. Personal and area air samples, along with fabric samples, were analyzed for formaldehyde. Health questionnaires were administered to two of the post curing operators, and (as part of a concurrent survey of this same factor) to 64 other workers. Formaldehyde concentrations in the personal and area air samples ranged from 0.42 to 0.5 parts per million (ppm) and 0.34 to 0.53ppm, respectively. These were well below the OSHA 8 hour time weighted average standard of 3ppm, although NIOSH recommends that exposures be kept to the lowest feasible limit. The fabric samples contained about 200ppm of formaldehyde. One of the two post curing workers reported symptoms of eye irritation, sore throat, coughing and skin problems. The other worker reported headaches. Among the 64 workers from the rest of the factory, frequent symptoms included eye irritation, nose and throat irritation, headache, coughing, sore throat, skin problems, and difficulty swallowing. The authors conclude that the workers are exposed to low concentrations of formaldehyde, and the reported symptoms are consistent with this exposure. They recommend engineering improvements such as the use of local exhaust and general ventilation, and better storage of fabric bolts.