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Exposure to formaldehyde during garment manufacturing.
Echt A; Burr GA
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 1997 Jul; 12(7):451-455
A survey of formaldehyde (50000) exposures at a garment manufacturing facility in Arkansas was conducted in response to a request from employees concerning adverse health effects attributed to workplace formaldehyde exposures. Environmental and breathing zone samples were collected and analyzed for formaldehyde, and total and inhalable dusts using NIOSH analytical methods. Breathing zone formaldehyde concentrations as 8 hour time weighted average (TWA) exposures ranged from 0.14 to 0.17 part per million (ppm). The TWA exposures were below the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) and action level of 0.75 and 0.5ppm and the American Conference of Governmental Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit value (TLV) of 0.3ppm. These exposures, however, exceeded NIOSH's recommended exposure limit of the lowest feasible concentration and the 0.1ppm level for OSHA required annual employee training. General air TWA formaldehyde exposures at the facility varied from 0.16 to 0.25ppm. The concentrations of inhalable dust in the breathing zone samples varied from 0.14 to 1.2mg/m3. The concentrations of formaldehyde in inhalable dust varied from around 1.9 to 29 micrograms/milligram. The author concludes that formaldehyde exposures on the day of the survey did not exceed the OSHA PEL and action level. They did exceed the NIOSH recommendation of limiting exposure to the lowest formaldehyde concentration possible. Because the dust was found to contain formaldehyde nuisance dust standards may not be sufficiently protective. Recommendations include using dilution ventilation to help reduce formaldehyde exposures in the factory, providing personal protective equipment such as gloves or long sleeves to prevent skin contact with formaldehyde, and providing the OSHA mandated training for employees exposed to formaldehyde at levels above 0.1ppm and implementing a hazard communication program.
NIOSH-Author; Formaldehydes; Organic-solvents; Occupational-exposure; Garment-workers; Industrial-hygiene; Dust-exposure; Breathing-zone; HHE 93-0028-2366
Issue of Publication
Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division