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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-99-0348-2786, Fremont Beef Company, Fremont, Nebraska.

Hall RM; Martinez KF; Gwin KK
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 99-0348-2786, NIOSH 2000 Mar; :1-6
On September 23, 1999, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) at the Fremont Beef Company in Fremont, Nebraska. The request, from management officials at the plant, concerned worker exposures to ozone during research and development (R&D) procedures for a new sanitation treatment process of raw beef. In response to the request, NIOSH investigators conducted an environmental evaluation at the Fremont Beef Company on Saturday, November 13, 1999. This evaluation was conducted on a weekend (when the plant was closed) to control worker and public access to the plant. Prior to the HHE request, the company had conducted two R&D testing procedures. During the first testing process, the workers did not have respiratory protection, and the ozone generator was shut down after approximately 15 minutes when they reported respiratory symptoms (lung discomfort, nose and throat discomfort, and asthma attacks) and nausea. During the second R&D ozone process, workers wore half-mask air purifying respirators equipped with air purifying cartridges intended for ozone (NIOSH does not certify a cartridge for protection against ozone). The company monitored for ozone during this process and reported concentrations of 0.2 parts of ozone per million parts of air (ppm). The workers did not report any symptoms during this testing procedure which lasted approximately 2 hours. During the NIOSH evaluation, workers and NIOSH representatives wore full face pressure-demand self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to protect the respiratory system from health effects of ozone inhalation. During this evaluation, it was determined that the ozone generator is capable of producing high concentrations of ozone. Peak ozone concentrations of 5 ppm (measured with detector tubes and a real-time monitor) were indicated near the inlet of the tumbler where a worker would occasionally insert raw beef products. Measurements collected with an ozone real-time monitor indicated average ozone concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 1 ppm in the general tumbler area with an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 0.05 ppm. Ozone detector tube samples taken around the tumbler area during the testing procedures indicated concentrations ranging from 2 to 3 ppm. The measured peak ozone concentration of 5 ppm exceeds the NIOSH ceiling limit (0.1 ppm), and is at the NIOSH recommended immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) limit (5 ppm) for ozone. The 8-hour TWA is below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL), and is at the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for exposure during heavy physical exertion. However, ozone peak concentrations exceeded excursion limits. Management personnel at Fremont Beef Company have decided to terminate the R&D testing procedures, and not utilize ozone to kill bacteria in beef products at the plant in the future.
Meat-packing; Sausages; Bacteria-treatment; Meat-processing; Respiratory irritants; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-7; Author Keywords: Sausages and Other Prepared Meat Products; ozone; bacteria treatment process; meat processing; respiratory irritants
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: July 15, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division