Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-94-0078-2660, Center to Protect Workers' Rights, Washington, D.C.
Miller AK; Esswein EJ; Allen J
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 94-0078-2660, 1997 Oct; :1-22
In response to a request from the Center to Protect Workers' Rights in Washington, D.C. (SIC-1742), an investigation was begun into exposure to total and respirable particulates, possibly containing silica (14808607), being generated from drywall finishing during the renovation of the building. Personal breathing zone samples were collected on two drywall finishers. Eight months later, additional samples were collected from eight drywall finishers. A medical evaluation was performed assessing workers' health symptoms. Six different off the shelf dry wall joint compounds were also examined. Concentrations of total and respirable dust levels exceeded the OSHA permissible exposure limits of 15mg/m3 total dust and 5mg/m3 respirable dust. Silica was present, but only at trace levels. None of the six bulk samples of joint compounds contained asbestos, three contained minor silica and perlite contents, and two contained minor quantities of gypsum and talc with one containing a minor quantity of clay. The most common nonmusculoskeletal symptoms reported during the 12 months of the study were phlegm production, cough, shortness of breath, and eye irritation. The most frequent musculoskeletal symptoms were pain, stiffness, or numbness in the elbows/forearms, back and hands/wrists. The authors recommend the use of engineering controls, wet finishing techniques, and personal protective equipment to limit exposures to dusts created during dry wall finishing operations.
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