Exposure levels of endotoxin, formaldehyde (50000), and phenolic resin compounds in a fiberglass insulation manufacturing facility were examined. Thirty seven production and maintenance workers were recruited for the study. Over the 6 week study period, 50 area samples were collected from four areas of the factory: the basement, forehearth, curing ovens, and other areas. Endotoxin was analyzed with the kinetic Limulus assay, formaldehyde with high pressure liquid chromatography, and phenolic resin with spectrophotometry. Of the factory areas, endotoxin and phenolic resin levels were highest in the basement, with mean concentrations of 613 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) and 322 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3), respectively. The highest mean formaldehyde concentration, 516microg/m3, was found in the forehearth. While endotoxin and phenolic resin concentrations in air were highly correlated, the formaldehyde concentration was not correlated with either compound. The contaminant levels detected in each area varied from day to day. Compared to employees in other areas, workers in the basement had the highest mean time weighted average (TWA) exposure to endotoxin, 69.8ng/m3. Curing oven workers had the highest mean TWA exposure to formaldehyde, 75.5microg/m3. Over the study period, 18% of the endotoxin exposure days exceeded the 100ng/m3 threshold established for long term exposed workers. Although at least 34% of the TWA exposures to formaldehyde exceeded the health based limit of 60microg/m3, none exceeded the permissible exposure limit. Overall, fixed location workers received more exposure to the contaminants than mobile workers. The authors conclude that fiberglass workers are exposed to low levels of formaldehyde and possibly significant levels of endotoxin.
Pulmonary system disorders; Humans; Occupational exposure; Toxic materials; Air sampling; Exposure levels; Insulation industry;
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