HHE report: HETA-80-209-1396, Crain Western, Compton, California.
Worker exposures to chemicals associated with urethane (51796) foam production operations were investigated in September 1980, March 1981, and May 1982, at Crain Western (SIC-3069) in Compton, California. The evaluation was requested by an authorized employee representative on behalf of about 100 exposed workers. Personal and area air samples were analyzed for toluene-diisocyanate (26471625) (TDI), methylene-bisphenyl-isocyanate (101688) (MDI), methylene- chloride (75092), methyl-chloroform (71556), and fluorotrichloromethane (75694) (Freon). Fourteen workers were given medical questionnaires and pulmonary function tests. Concentrations of MDI, methylene-chloride, methyl-chloroform, and Freon were below the respective OSHA standards of 0.2 (15 minute ceiling), 1800, 1900 and 5600 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3). TDI concentrations were as high as 4.4mg/m3, exceeding the OSHA limit of 0.14mg/m3. Seven workers had symptoms compatible with TDI exposure, including eye irritation, chest tightness or soreness, shortness of breath, decreases in pulmonary function over the work day, and wheezing. The authors conclude that a health hazard due to TDI exposure exists at this facility. The hazard is associated with the airborne isocyanate polymer rather than the monomer. The symptoms experienced by the workers are compatible with TDI exposure. The authors recommend improvements in ventilation, use of respiratory protection as well as protective clothing and gear, periodic environmental monitoring, and medical surveillance of workers exposed to TDI.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-80-209-1396, 31 pages, 28 references