HHE Report No. HETA-91-251-2218, New Hampshire Ball Bearing, Laconia, New Hampshire.
In response to a request from management and employees at New Hampshire Ball Bearing (SIC-3562), Laconia, New Hampshire, an investigation was made of possible hazardous working conditions at that site. The company employs 490 workers in the manufacture of self lubricating bearings, primarily for use in the aerospace industry. Personal breathing zone and area air sampling were performed at the site for formaldehyde (50000), phenol (108952), methylene-dianiline (101779), freon-113 (76131), dichloroethane (107062), trichloroethane (71556), ethanol (64175), ethyl-acetate (141786), and other organic solvents. Although the levels of all chemicals sampled were below the OSHA permissible exposure limits, formaldehyde and dichloroethane are considered by NIOSH to be potential human carcinogens. Bulk sample analyses indicated that Vydax (59217424) (tetrafluoroethylene telomer) was present throughout the Teflon Room. This could explain some of the symptoms experienced by the employees including fever, chills, aching, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Most workers experiencing the symptoms appeared to have been exposed by smoking cigarettes contaminated with polymer, resulting in polymer fume fever. The author concludes that a potential health hazard existed as a result of worker exposure to formaldehyde, dichloroethane, and tetrafluoroethylene telomer decomposition products. The author recommends substituting less toxic materials where possible, and preventing cross contamination of the Teflon Room with Vydax. Workers should avoid contaminating cigarettes with Vydax.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-91-251-2218, 24 pages, 11 references