Health hazard evaluation report: HETA 99-0139-2769, The Society of Glass Beadmakers, Corning, New York.
On February 28, 1998, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) from the president of the Society of Glass Beadmakers (SGB). The major occupational concern was optical radiation exposure during beadmaking. The requester asked that NIOSH attend the SGB annual conference in Corning, New York, on May 7-10, 1998, and perform optical radiation measurements. NIOSH also evaluated environmental contaminants produced during the various beadmaking demonstrations at the conference. Four different demonstrations were monitored. The processes used were typical of those used at a normal worksite, but may not represent actual working conditions. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to conference attendees to gather information about job activities and possible health effects. Area air samples were collected for metals, total particulates, respirable particulate, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Bulk samples of bead release materials and glass were collected and analyzed for trace metal content. Hand-wipe samples were collected from all demonstrators before and after each glass bead event to determine trace metal contamination. Exposure levels to ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infrared (IR) radiation were documented during the production of glass beads. Air temperature was measured near the face of the demonstrators. Most respondents reported being burned by hot glass and being cut by broken glass in the past year. All measured exposures were well below occupational exposure limits. Total particulates and respirable particulate were not detected in the air samples collected. Trace levels of some VOCs were found on samples collected near the worktable. The VOCs were probably generated by compounds used by the demonstrators (such as fuels from various torches) or from hotel cleaning products. Wipe sampling of the demonstrators' hands did not show contamination with metals. Traces of various metals were found in the bulk glass samples. The bead release materials were clay-based.