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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-94-0373-2480, Suffolk County Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts.

Burkhart JE; Parker JE
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 94-0373-2480, 1995 Jan; :1-53
In response to a request from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, an investigation was begun into possible health hazards from exposure to isocyanates and volatile organic compounds at the Suffolk County Courthouse (SIC-9199), Boston, Massachusetts. Waterproofing and caulking materials had been applied at the site during an ongoing renovation and waterproofing project. Workers complained of cough, wheezing, chest tightness, asthma, eye irritation, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, and nausea. The last application of the materials was in June 1994, but health complaints from workers continued. Efforts at odor abatement were made and some workers were moved out of the building. The NIOSH investigation was conducted in August 1994. Samples taken from the courthouse revealed no measurable quantities of isocyanates and only low quantities of volatile organic compounds. The authors conclude that a health hazard from low level exposure to isocyanates and volatile organic compounds may exist for some workers, due to individual susceptibility, preexisting medical conditions, and hypersensitivity. The authors recommend that an effective ventilation system be installed. Workers still experiencing health problems should be relocated within the building or off site until a ventilation system is operational. Some individuals with medically documented isocyanate sensitization may be unable to return to work in the building.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-94-0373-2480; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-1; Respiratory-system-disorders; Lung-irritants; Air-quality-monitoring; Solvent-vapors; Indoor-air-pollution; Office-workers; Volatiles; Occupational-exposure; Indoor-environmental-quality; Author Keywords: General Government, Not Elsewhere Classified; methylene biphenyl diisocyanate; MDI; toluene diisocyanate; TDI; volatile organic compounds; VOCs; Duramem; Bituthane; respiratory irritant; sensitization; asthma
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division