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A case study of chromium VI-induced skin ulcerations during a porcelain enamel curing operation.

Fleeger AK; Deng F
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 1990 Jun; 5(6):378-382
An outbreak of hexavalent-chromium (18540299) (Cr+6) induced skin problems among ground coat line workers employed in a porcelain enamel curing operation was investigated. NIOSH was requested to perform a health hazard evaluation to investigate the source of skin problems in workers in the enamel department of a factory that manufactured gas and electric ranges (SIC-3631). Seven workers in the enamel department had reported skin ulcerations which were found to be consistent with Cr+6 exposure. Cr+6 concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 2.4 micrograms per milligram (microg/mg) were found in environmental samples obtained from hangers used to hold range parts as they passed through a curing oven. The coils of the curing oven were found to be defective permitting open flames to play on the hangers and parts. After the coils were repaired, a followup survey was performed. Seventy four of 78 workers in the enamel department completed a questionnaire to obtain information on skin problems, job history, and use of barrier creams and other skin protective measures. Ten workers, including the seven original cases, reported skin problems; eight were employed on the ground coat line. Environmental sampling showed concentrations of 0.3 to 4.4microg/mg Cr+6. The authors conclude that the skin problems of the workers were caused by defective curing oven coils. Open flames from the coils made Cr+6 more available to the hangers and created sharp edges on the hangers. The sharp edges cut the workers' hands enabling Cr+6 to penetrate into and under the skin. Recommendations include performing quarterly maintenance on the curing oven coils, requiring the enamel department workers to wear protective gloves and barrier creams, and cleaning the hangers as they exit the oven.
NIOSH-Author; Skin-disorders; Chromates; Chromium-compounds; Industrial-factory-workers; Paints; Occupational-exposure
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Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division