HHE Report No. HETA-93-1133-2425, Electrode Corporation, Chardon, Ohio.
In October 1993, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a confidential employee request to conduct a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at Electrode Corporation, Chardon, Ohio. The requestors expressed concern about employee exposures in the plating, degreasing, etching, and coating processes, and potential exposures to asbestos in the diaphragm pre-coat area. On November 9, 1993, NIOSH investigators collected personal breathing zone (PBZ) and general area (GA) air samples for inorganic acids, organic solvents and metals, and conducted confidential employee interviews. Bulk material samples were also collected for mercury and asbestos analyses. On December 16, 1993, a return site visit was conducted, PBZ and GA air samples were collected to assess employee exposures to inorganic acids and organic solvents during the coating processes, and bulk material samples were collected for asbestos analyses. Three bulk samples showed that material removed from a crate of diaphragm anodes contained 80 to 90% chrysotile asbestos. However, asbestos was not detected on surface and air samples. Results of PBZ air sampling for n-butanol showed that employees working on the inside conveyor coating line were overexposed: full-shift PBZ air samples ranged from 16 to 182 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), 15-minute short-term PBZ air samples ranged from 13 to 183 mg/m3. The higher n-butanol concentrations exceed the NIOSH and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) ceiling limits of 50 mg/m3, but did not exceed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 300 mg/m3. Sampling results for ethanol, hydrogen chloride (HCl), and 1,1,1-trichloroethane showed no exposures above the pertinent criteria. Perchloroethylene samples showed that the etch technician was exposed to a concentration of 11 mg/m3, and a GA concentration in the etch department was 2 mg/m3. The concentrations detected are below the OSHA 8-hour PEL of 689 mg/m3, however, NIOSH considers perchloroethylene to be a potential occupational carcinogen and recommends that exposures be controlled to the lowest feasible level (LFL). Two of three full-shift PBZ air samples for metals showed nickel concentrations that exceeded the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) of 15 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3), but did not exceed the OSHA PEL of 1,000 microg/m3. Titanium was detected on all three samples (range 2 to 10 microg/m3), but concentrations did not exceed the OSHA PEL of 15,000 microg/m3, however, NIOSH considers nickel and titanium to be occupational carcinogens and recommends that exposure be controlled to the LFL. Mercury vapor concentrations in the mercury cell pre-coat area and the outside storage area ranged from 8 to 105 microg/m3 during the first visit. The highest concentrations were found inside unopened crates of mercury anodes. While no one is actually exposed to the concentrations detected the measured concentrations indicate the potential for brief exposures (when opening the crates) to concentrations at or above the NIOSH and ACGIH criteria of 50 microg/m3 and the OSHA criteria of 100 microg/m3. A bulk material sample collected in the mercury anode repair room did not contain mercury. Confidential employee interviews were conducted to address worker concerns about fatigue, sleeplessness, memory loss, the potential for asbestosis from asbestos contaminated anodes, and the threat of sarcoidosis and/or ulcerative colitis as a result of work-related exposures. The symptoms reported by employees were consistent with but not specific to the organic solvents used at this plant. Workers exposed to asbestos-contaminated anodes are not at risk for asbestosis, however, exposure to even low levels of asbestos increases a workers' risk for lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Furthermore, workers were informed that sarcoidosis and ulcerative colitis are not occupationally related diseases.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-93-1133-2425; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-5; Organic-solvents; Solvent-vapors; Occupational-exposure; Electroplating; Asbestos-fibers;
Author Keywords: Electroplating; Plating; Polishing; Anodizing and Coloring; asbestos; nbutanol; nickel; perchloroethylene; titanium; hydrogen chloride
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-93-1133-2425, 30 pages, 38 references