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Industrial hygiene characterization of ethylene oxide exposures of hospital and nursing home workers.
Ringenburg VL; Elliott LJ; Morelli-Schroth P; Molina D
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, IWS 152-22, 1986 Dec; :1-95
Industrial hygiene surveys were conducted at 12 hospitals and one nursing home to determine possible employee exposure to ethylene- oxide (75218) (EtO). Different types of exposure situations existed at each of the facilities as a result of various engineering controls, administrative controls and work practices. Sampling indicated that the time weighted averages (TWAs) of exposure over periods of 36 to 724 minutes ranged from below the limit of detection to 6.7 parts per million (ppm). Personal short term exposure levels covering 2 to 30 minutes ranged from less than the limit of detection to 103.2ppm. Factors which were found to be responsible for these higher than permissible levels of EtO exposure included improper installation or lack of engineering controls (such as improper placement of the sterilizing operations), unbalanced ventilation systems, and lack of administrative controls resulting in inappropriate work practices. Inappropriate practices included overcrowding of the sterilizer room workspace, not waiting for 15 minutes after cracking open the sterilizer door before unloading the sterilizer, spending too much time transferring EtO sterilized loads to the aerators, holding the sterilizer liner bag and EtO sterilized items in the breathing zone, and wearing of improper personal protective equipment. Recommendations were made which addressed each of these areas of deficiency.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Survey; Field-Study; Health-care-personnel; Hospital-equipment; Laboratory-workers; Vapors; Disinfectants; Air-quality-monitoring
Field Studies; Industry Wide
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division