The results of two NIOSH evaluations of airborne emissions generated by carbon-dioxide laser cutting operations were discussed. Area and personal air samples collected during carbon-dioxide laser cutting of fused quartz glassware, plastic, and metals at a scientific glassware manufacturing facility were analyzed for fused silica (7631869), trace metals, and organic vapors. Time weighted average (TWA) area and personal air fused silica concentrations were 0.5 and standard of 0.1mg/m3. Small quantities of chromium (7440473), copper (7440508), iron (7439896), nickel (7440020), or zinc (7440666) at concentrations just barely above the detection limit were measured. Ethyl-acrylate (140885) concentrations up to 149 parts per million (ppm) were detected when plexiglass, acrylic, and lucite were cut. The OSHA short term exposure limit for ethyl- acrylate is 25ppm. Two 2 hour area air samples contained 0.4 to 1.0ppm ethyl-acrylate. Ethyl-acrylate concentrations were high enough to cause nausea and irritative symptoms. A health hazard existed due to exposures from fused silica and ethyl-acrylate. The second study documented breathing zone exposures when cutting Kevlar, a lightweight organic composite material, with a carbon- dioxide laser. The laser technicians who performed the cutting operations complained of eye and skin irritation. Carbon-monoxide (630080) concentrations ranged up to 35ppm. TWA nitrogen oxides concentrations of around 5ppm were measured. Short term hydrogen- cyanide (74908) concentrations of 0.03 to 0.08mg/m3 were generated in the laser cutting area. This resulted in a TWA exposure of of 0.05mg/m3.
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