HHE Report No. HETA-85-052-1623, Alaska Native Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska.
Environmental and breathing zone samples were analyzed for formaldehyde (50000), ethanol (64175), and xylene (1330207) at the Alaska Native Hospital (SIC-8071), Anchorage, Alaska, in November, 1984 and March, 1985. The evaluation was requested by the Environmental Health Section of the Indian Health Service to determine employee exposure to the compounds in the histology laboratory. The employees were interviewed regarding current and past adverse health effects. Exposures to the pathologist were: formaldehyde, 0.50 to 1.23 parts per million (ppm); ethanol, 8.2ppm; and xylene, 0.5ppm. A technician was exposed to 3.9ppm xylene. The OSHA standards are: formaldehyde, 3ppm; ethanol, 1,000ppm; and xylene, 100ppm. General air concentrations were: ethanol, 9.6ppm; xylene, 1.3ppm; and formaldehyde, 0.4ppm. During tissue examination, formaldehyde concentrations ranged up to 0.81ppm. The pathologist reported eye irritation and tearing. The author concludes that the pathologist is potentially exposed to toxic concentrations of formaldehyde. Ethanol and xylene do not present a health hazard. Recommendations include designing and installing a new local exhaust system where gross tissue examinations are conducted, performing tissue examinations in a hood, and informing all employees of the hazards of formaldehyde, which is considered a potential carcinogen by NIOSH.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-85-052-1623, 14 pages, 5 references