Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA-2000-0077-2816, Delphi Automotive Systems Flint East Operations, Flint, Michigan.
On January 3, 2000, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) from employees at Delphi Automotive Systems - Flint East Operations in Flint, Michigan. The HHE request expressed concerns about possible exposure to lead resulting from the use of wave solder machines during the production of circuit boards. In response to this request, a site visit was conducted on March 30 through April 1, 2000. During this site visit, two NIOSH industrial hygienists and a visiting researcher conducted a walk-through inspection of the area of concern and discussed the exposure issue with management and employees working in the area. Full-shift personal breathing zone (PBZ) and area air sampling was performed to measure the levels of potential exposure to lead and tin dust originating from the 60% tin / 40% lead solder used in the wave solder machines. Surface sampling was also conducted for lead dust on equipment surfaces, lunch room tables, floors, and hands of employees. Discussions were held with management regarding their written lead compliance program, personal protective equipment program, and their environmental monitoring and medical surveillance plans. Results from the PBZ sampling ranged between nondetectable and 4.0 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3 ) for lead and between nondetectable and 7.0 microg/m3 for tin. The PBZ results were all well below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limits (PEL) of 50 microg lead/m3 and 2000 microg tin/m3 averaged over an 8-hour work shift. None of the area air samples had detectable amounts of lead or tin. Wipe sampling did detect the presence of accumulated lead on a variety of work surfaces. These included the floor near wave solder machines, some equipment surfaces, and ceiling air supply ventilation registers. Results for the wipe sampling ranged from nondetectable to 1700 microg lead/wipe sample (each sample was collected over a 100 square centimeter [cm2 ] area.) Despite the fact that employee exposure to airborne lead does not appear to be excessive in the work areas evaluated, the presence of accumulated lead on work surfaces indicates a potential for occupational exposure to lead. Management needs to stress regular and thorough housekeeping procedures in these areas and employees need to recognize the importance of personal hygiene practices in the prevention of ingestion of this accumulated lead. Recommendations regarding the site’s written lead compliance program, lead sampling, and housekeeping issues are provided in this report.