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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-99-0294-2775, Exempla St. Joseph Hospital, Denver Colorado.

Esswein EJ
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 99-0294-2775, 2000 Jan; :1-6
A health hazard evaluation (HHE) was requested by management at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Exempla St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver, Colorado. The request concerned possible exposures to natural rubber latex (NRL) proteins. Employees reported rhinitis, sneezing, rash, watery eyes, and aggravation of allergic symptoms. A reservoir of dust was found within the NICU; exhaust from the central vacuum cleaning system was leaking into the ceiling plenum of an area adjacent to the NICU. The system exhausted vacuumed carpet dust into the ceiling plenum, rather than to the outside, as designed. The use of pressure measurements and carbon dioxide tracer gas demonstrated that a potential pathway existed for the movement of airborne dusts from the affected plenum to the adjacent plenum over the NICU. Two air samples, six surface samples, and two bulk dust samples were collected. Concentrations of NRL ranged from below the limit of detection [<1 allergy units (AU) per milliliter of extracted sample] to 4.2 AUs. Eight of the ten samples were in a range considered to be trace concentrations. The two NRL air samples were reported at less than the limit of detection and 1.8 AU. No mechanical or maintenance deficiencies and no visible microbiological contamination were identified in the air handling unit serving the NICU. A water leak in the NICU was identified, and remediated by hospital personnel.
Latex-gloves; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-8; Vacuum-cleaners; Carpets; Dust; Author Keywords: General Medical and Surgical Hospitals; Hospital, Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, NICU; dust; vacuum cleaners; carpets; natural rubber latex; NRL
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: July 15, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division