Worker exposures to hazardous chemicals were evaluated at coal gasification facilities. Industrial hygiene surveys were conducted, and air samples were collected for analysis of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polynuclear aza heterocyclic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, metals, common toxic gases, and other organic compounds. Sampling results indicated that workers were exposed to polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in the low microgram per cubic meter range, with the light molecular weight compounds in higher concentrations than the four through seven ring compounds. Some specific activities produced higher concentrations. Aromatic amines, phenolic compounds and simple aromatic solvents were occasionally present at very low levels. High levels of carbon-monoxide (630080) and hydrogen-sulfide (7783064) were detected in some areas of the facilities. Analysis of wipe samples indicated that polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons containing up to five rings were present on most surfaces; the presence of these compounds may represent a skin exposure hazard. The fixed bed process produced significantly higher polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon emissions than the fluidized bed and entrained bed high temperature gasifiers. Emissions were reduced by negative pressure systems in one facility and enclosure of the process area in another. Maintenance activities produced higher exposures to polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons than routine operator activities. The authors recommend specific measures to reduce dermal exposures, and to control exposures to toxic gases.
Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia