Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-99-0137-2810, World Color Press, Effingham, Illinois.
On March 16, 1999, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request from the Graphic Communications Local #391-C union to conduct a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at World Color Press located in Effingham, Illinois. Employees reportedly had unspecified respiratory problems and skin rashes that they believed were caused by occupational exposures to solvents and inks during printing and binding processes. On June 23-24, 1999, a walk-though survey was conducted to review the printing and bindery processes, conduct air sampling for potential air contaminants, and interview employees. A follow-up industrial hygiene survey was conducted on September 8-9, 1999, to measure workers' exposures to petroleum naphthas, 2-butoxyethanol, aldehydes, and resin acids (specifically abietic and dehydroabietic acids). Full-shift personal breathing-zone (PBZ) air samples collected for petroleum naphthas on press operators and press cleaners revealed time-weighed average (TWA) exposures of 48 and 98 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3 ), respectively. These exposures were below both the NIOSH recommended exposure limit (REL) of 350 mg/m3 for up to a 10-hour workday, 40-hour work week, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 2000 mg/m3 . Full-shift 2-butoxyethanol exposures ranged up to 1.9 mg/m3 , below both the NIOSH REL of 24 mg/m3 as a 10-hour TWA and the OSHA PEL of 240 mg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA. Full-shift PBZ air samples collected on print press operators and bindery operators for aldehydes revealed TWA concentrations up to 0.027 parts per million (ppm) for formaldehyde, 0.004 ppm for butanal, and 0.029 ppm for acetaldehyde. General area air samples collected revealed TWA concentrations up to 0.023 ppm for formaldehyde, 0.007 ppm for butanal, and 0.168 ppm for acetaldehyde. Because these aldehydes are potentially carcinogenic to humans, NIOSH recommends reducing exposures to the lowest feasible concentration (such as ambient concentrations near the workplace). Two area air samples collected outdoors revealed ambient concentrations of 0.003 ppm for formaldehyde, 0.0007 ppm for butanal, and 0.0006 ppm for acetaldehyde. Full-shift PBZ air samples for resin acids collected on printing press operators and bindery operators revealed concentrations up to 2 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3 ) for dehydroabietic acid, while only trace abietic acid concentrations were measured. General area air sampling revealed TWA concentrations up to 4.5 microg/m3 for abietic acid and 9.2 microg/m3 for dehydroabietic acid at printing presses, and up to 6 microg/m3 for abietic acid and 77 microg/m3 for dehydroabietic acid in the bindery department. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' (ACGIH) recommends reducing exposures to as low as possible. In two area air samples for resin acids collected outdoors, no resin acids were detected. There are no established exposure criteria by NIOSH or OSHA for resin acids. Thirty-six employees were interviewed in person by a NIOSH physician, including 2 from quality assurance, 9 from the bindery, and 25 from the pressroom. Twenty-six were selected from a list provided by the union of persons with respiratory and/or dermal complaints who were scheduled to work during the site visit. The rest were randomly selected from the schedule of workers during our visit. Interviews covered occupational, environmental, and medical histories, with special attention to the nervous, respiratory, and dermatologic systems. A temporal relationship between reported symptoms and work was sought. Several workers reported symptoms consistent with occupational contact dermatitis. Others reported respiratory symptoms related to work. Work-relatedness could not be determined in our evaluation. Several workers reported symptoms consistent with occupational contact dermatitis and others reported respiratory symptoms. However, the work-relatedness of the respiratory symptoms could not be determined in our evaluation. Workers were exposed to airborne concentrations of naphthas and 2- butoxyethanol that were well below their respective exposure criteria. Workers were exposed to aldehyde concentrations that were greater than levels measured outdoors. Workers were exposed to measurable airborne resin acid concentrations generated by both the printing and perfect binding processes. Dermal exposures to these chemical substances present a significant health hazard when handling inks and solvents without regular use of appropriate protective gloves, and good personal hygiene that includes frequent hand washing and wearing unsoiled work clothing. Recommendations are offered in this report to help reduce workers' exposures to air contaminants, solvents, and inks.