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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-99-0250-2815, University of Kentucky, College of Pharmacy, Lexington, Kentucky.

Cook CK; Daftarian H; Mortimer V
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 99-0250-2815, 2000 Nov; :1-15
In June 1999, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request from management at the University of Kentucky Medical Center to conduct a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at the College of Pharmacy building. The request stated that two College of Pharmacy faculty personnel had been diagnosed with chronic neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis [MS] and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS]), and that there were concerns that the development of these conditions may be work-related. Since the building was first occupied in 1985, faculty personnel often reported smelling chemical odors from research labs on the 4th floor. NIOSH investigators reviewed the facility's Chemical Hygiene Plan, chemical inventory lists, ventilation blue-prints, and floor plans. A tracer gas evaluation of the building's ventilation system was conducted to evaluate potential pollutant pathways and airflow patterns on the 4th floor. The tracer gas study demonstrated how chemical odors generated in labs can enter each floor's common return-air plenum, then disperse to other areas in the building, and how air contaminants released from fume hood exhaust stacks and a plumbing vent could re-enter the building's ventilation system. Some research labs were under positive pressure, which may allow chemical odors to disperse to areas outside the lab. Medical interviews were conducted and medical records were reviewed. Interviewed were one of the two employees diagnosed as having a neurologic condition and five randomly selected employees. None of the five randomly selected employees reported work-related health problems. The medical records of one employee confirmed the development of a neurologic disorder during the employee's employment at the College of Pharmacy, but this information alone was insufficient to determine whether the condition was work-related. The other employee with a neurologic condition declined to be interviewed or submit medical records. This investigation could not determine whether occupational exposures could account for neurological disorders experienced by two College of Pharmacy employees. Ventilation problems were identified where the return-air plenum serving each floor can allow air contaminants to recirculate to other areas in the building. Also, the ventilation system was not balanced to maintain a negative pressure in labs. Recommendations are offered to improve work practices and laboratory ventilation.
Hazard Unconfirmed; Region 4; Neurological system; Neurological diseases; Ventilation; Ventilation hoods; Ventilation systems; Sulfur compounds; Author Keywords: Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools; pharmacy; laboratory safety; ventilation; chemical fume hoods; neurological disorders; multiple sclerosis; MS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; Lou Gehrig's disease; tracer gas; sulfur hexafloride; SF6
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: July 23, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division