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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-83-335-1618, Kendall Company, Augusta, Georgia.
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 83-335-1618, 1985 Aug; :1-27
Environmental and breathing zone samples were analyzed for ethylene- oxide (75218) at the Kendall Company (SIC-3841), Augusta, Georgia in August, 1983 and July and August, 1984. The evaluation was requested confidentially to investigate employee complaints of eye irritation and neurologic symptoms and concern over an excessive number of miscarriages. Physicians at the Medical College of Georgia had reported cases of peripheral neuropathy and cataracts related to ethylene-oxide exposure. Twenty one employees were interviewed. Company medical records were reviewed. Ethylene-oxide concentrations ranged from nondetectable to 0.83 part per million (ppm). The OSHA standard for ethylene-oxide is 1.00ppm. Grab samples taken during sterilizer down/loading contained 0.3 to 25.0ppm ethylene-oxide. Medical records confirmed three cases of neuropathy and four of cataracts. Headache, eye irritation, and fatigue were the most prominent symptoms reported. Many of these symptoms were resolved when ethylene-oxide was removed from the alcohol wipes. Five of six miscarriages were not occupationally related. The authors conclude that cases of peripheral neuropathy and cataracts among ethylene- oxide sterilizer operators can be related to past exposures, which were higher. Recommendations include using engineering controls to reduce ethylene-oxide exposures further and complying with OSHA recommendations in monitoring employees exposed to action level concentrations of 0.5ppm ethylene-oxide.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; Hazards-Confirmed; Medical-equipment; Region-4; Chemical-properties; Environmental-factors; Biological-effects; HETA-83-335-1618; Author Keywords: Medical and Surgical Instruments; Ethylene Oxide; Hospital Supply Sterilization; Neuropathy; Cataracts
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division