Occupational exposure to chemical and biological agents in the nonproduction departments of pulp, paper, and paper product mills: an international study.
As part of an international epidemiological study of workers in the pulp and paper industry, previously unpublished exposure measurements were assembled in a database. This article describes 7293 measurements in nonproduction departments from 147 mills in 11 countries. The greatest variety of agents was measured in the maintenance, construction, and cleaning department, where high exposures to asbestos, chromium [VI] compounds, copper, mercury in urine, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, styrene, sulfur dioxide, trichloroethylene, and welding fumes were observed. Measurements in the storage, yard, loading, and shipping department indicated high exposures to asbestos, carbon monoxide, fungal spores, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and total dust. The steam and power generation department had high exposures to methyl mercaptan, silica, and total dust. Measurements in process and effluent water treatment, laboratory and research, engineering, and office, administration, and cafeteria areas had few elevated exposures. Throughout the nonproduction departments, measurements of pulp-production chemicals such as chlorine and sulfur compounds tended to be low, with many below detection limits. There were some problems with the available data; in particular, detection limits were often not specified, and the data tended to be clustered in such a way that sources of exposure variability could not be distinguished. Despite these problems, the data provide new insight into the exposures of nonproduction pulp and paper industry personnel.