HHE Report No. HETA-84-426-1963, Ormet Corporation, Hannibal, Ohio.
In response to a request from Local 5724, United Steelworkers of America, an evaluation was made of possible long term exposure to potroom gases, fumes, and dusts at Ormet Corporation (SIC-3334), Hannibal, Ohio. The facility was a producer of primary aluminum, had six potrooms, each composed of two buildings housing 86 pots, for a total of 1032 pots. Excessive exposures to fluorides were determined among crane operators, particularly among cranemen involved with the placement of new carbon anodes in the pots. Personal samples for fluoride obtained from these men ranged from 0.95 to 3.61mg/m3. Sixteen percent of workers completing a medical questionnaire reported symptoms suggestive of asthma; in 13 of these cases the asthma was temporally related to work and symptoms worsened in or near the potroom. Neurologic effects including memory impairment, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and neurasthenic symptoms were no more prevalent among current potroom workers than among other participants in the medical review. However, each was more prevalent among workers who had ever worked in the potroom. The authors conclude that there was a potential for excess exposures to fluorides among potroom crane operators. There was no convincing evidence of an association between exposure to aluminum (7429905) and neurologic effects. The authors recommend upgrading engineering controls to reduce the exposure of the crane operator to fluorides, exhausting the crucible to the outside, establishing good worker hygiene and work practices, maintaining pot access floors and shields, monitoring of airborne gases, and using respirators.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-84-426-1963, 28 pages, 11 references