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Occupational hygiene characterization of a highway construction project: a pilot study.
Greenspan-CA; Moure-Eraso-R; Wegman-DH; Oliver-LC
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 1995 Jan; 10(1):50-58
A study of occupational noise, respirable silica (14808607), and asphalt fume exposures among highway construction workers was conducted. This was a pilot study for a larger study addressing hazards associated with a heavy highway construction project. The study group consisted of 25 engineers and laborers involved in building a highway exchange. Full shift noise exposures were measured for engineers operating heavy equipment. Random area noise levels were also measured at various distances from heavy equipment. Personal air sampling for total and respirable dust, respirable silica, and asphalt fumes was conducted. The benzene soluble fraction (BSF) of asphalt fumes was analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Time weighted average (TWA) noise exposures of the heavy equipment operators varied from 67.8 to 103 decibels-A (dBA). The highest exposure was measured on an asphalt paver operator and the lowest on a Caterpillar operator who was in an enclosed insulated cab. The overall average noise exposure was 89.0dBA. Approximately 83% of the exposures were above the OSHA standard of 90dBA recommended for the construction industry. Area noise exposures varied from 89 to 136dBA. Total dust exposures varied from 0.24 to 3.70mg/m3. The highest exposure was measured on a laborer performing excavation and shoveling work. Respirable dust concentrations measured in three samples averaged 0.03, 0.08, and 0.53mg/m3. The silica content of the samples averaged 0.17, 0, and 0.12mg/m3, respectively. Total asphalt fume concentrations measured during asphalt paving operations ranged from 0.20 to 3.46mg/m3. The BSF concentrations ranged from 0.19 to 3.38mg/m3. PAHs were detected in the BSF fraction in three of 11 samples. The authors conclude that this pilot study indicated that more in depth exposure assessments are needed in the highway construction industry, and engineering controls are needed to reduce noise, dust and fume exposures.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Construction-workers; Road-construction; Occupational-exposure; Silica-dusts; Asphalt-fumes; Polycyclic-aromatic-hydrocarbons; Equipment-operators
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Issue of Publication
Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Center to Protect Workers' Rights, Washington, DC
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division