As part of a study to evaluate the cancer risks among embalmers and funeral directors in relation to specific exposures arising from the practice of embalming, exposure monitoring was performed at the job site. Work practices and chemicals used were determined for 14 funeral homes in the Washington, DC area. Personal exposures and area concentrations of formaldehyde (50000) were monitored during 25 embalmings by one embalmer in one location. Measurements were also taken of methanol (67561), phenol (108952), and particulates. The level of ventilation was controlled along with the concentration of the embalming solution and the type of case (intact or autopsied). Personal exposures to formaldehyde ranged from 0.31 to 8.72 parts per million (ppm) for full period exposures of 51 to 121 minutes. Peak exposures were as high as 21ppm for 15 minutes. Methanol ranged from 0.54 to 12.83ppm. Particulate mass concentrations were low and measurable phenol levels were noted in only 40% of the procedures. Low levels of airborne microorganisms were detected.
NIOSH Author; Epidemiology; Occupational exposure; Air quality monitoring; Organic solvents; Formaldehydes; Ventilation systems; Air sampling
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