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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-81-382-1439, Energy Resources Company, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Baker EL; Ellenbecker MJ
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 81-382-1439, 1984 Mar; :1-34
In July 1981, NIOSH received a request to conduct a health hazard evaluation at the Energy Resources Co., Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. The request sought an industrial hygiene evaluation of several analytical chemistry laboratories. Acting under a cooperative agreement with NIOSH the Harvard School of Public Health ,Occupational Health Program, conducted environmental and medical evaluation at the laboratories during January to April 19982. Time-weighted average (TWA) exposures to methylene chloride and hexane for a 7 to 8 hour day were determined for 20 employees, using both passive dosimeter badges (charcoal) and the NIOSH validated charcoal tube method. For hexane, the badge results compared favorably with the charcoal tube results. For methylene chloride, the badge results were significantly higher than the charcoal tube results. All TWA exposures were below Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard. For methylene chloride, the exposures ranged form non -detectable to 118 ppm with one sample exceeding the NIOSH recommendation of 75 ppm. For hexane, the exposures ranged from non-detectable to 45 ppm (NIOSH recommends 1000 ppm). Combining the charcoal tube exposure levels for the vapor mixture, based on the central nervous system effects of methylene chloride and hexane, showed one sample to be above survey criteria. Measurement of face velocities in laboratory hoods revealed two hoods with unacceptably low air flows. Airflow balance studies showed inadequate makeup air for both the Marine Organics and General Organics Laboratories. 11 or 14 workers reported acute symptoms, (headache, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, dizziness) consistent with the effects of solvent exposure. The frequency of symptoms seemed to correlate in a limited way with solvent use patterns. A slight, but not statistically significant, slowing in response time was seen in workers chronically exposed to solvents when compared with an unexposed control group.
Hazard-Confirmed; Region-1; Occupational-exposure; Time-weighted-average; Exposure-limits; Ventilation; Author Keywords: Chemical Laboratories; hexane; methylene chloride; passive dosimeters
75-09-2; 110-54-3
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
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NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Harvard School of Public Health
Page last reviewed: July 15, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division