Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2000-0124-2875, Tenneco Automotive, Milan, Ohio.
On January 21, 2000, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at the Tenneco Automotive (TA) facility in Milan, Ohio, by an authorized representative of the United Auto Workers Union (Local 2352). The request expressed concern about inadequate ventilation and possible nitrosamine generation from the rubber mixing and curing processes in the facility. The request indicated a variety of health symptoms experienced by TA employees including respiratory and sinus infections, nose bleeds, and loss of voice, as well as a cancer concern in relation to nitrosamine exposure. However, discussions with the requestor revealed that cancer in relation to nitrosamine exposure was the primary health concern. In response to this request, NIOSH investigators conducted an initial site visit on May 10, 2000, and a follow-up investigation on April 5, 2001. On May 10, 2000, NIOSH investigators collected eight general area (GA) air samples for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Based upon the initial findings, the NIOSH investigators determined that a follow-up visit was necessary to better characterize workers' exposures to nitrosamines as well as total and respirable particulates and total hydrocarbons. On April 5, 2001, NIOSH investigators collected a total of 32 personal breathing zone (PBZ) and 7 GA air samples for nitrosamines, 1 PBZ and 13 GA air samples for total particulate, 1 PBZ and 13 GA air samples for respirable particulate, 26 GA air samples for total hydrocarbons, and 8 GA air samples for VOCs during the first shift. Nitrosamine air samples were analyzed for N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), N-nitrosodipropylamine (NDPA), N-nitrosodibutylamine (NDBA), N-nitrosopiperidine (NPIP), N-nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYR), and N-nitrosomorpholine (NMOR). During the initial and follow-up surveys, the VOC air samples found over 100 different components with o-chlorotoluene and diphenylamine as typically the strongest peaks identified. None of the seven individual nitrosamines analyzed for were detected in the air samples. All air samples collected for total particulate, respirable particulate, and total hydrocarbons were below relevant evaluation criteria. During the course of this evaluation, NIOSH never received any information from identified management or labor representatives concerning health problems (specifically, cancer,) among current or former employees of TA. In the absence of this information, no evaluation of the occupational cancer risks among TA employees could be made. Based on the lack of information provided to them, NIOSH investigators are unable to conclude that a health hazard related to nitrosamine exposure existed at the Tenneco Automotive facility. However, at the time this investigation was conducted, air concentrations of nitrosamines and other compounds were all below relevant evaluation criteria. The ventilation survey and observation of work practices conducted by NIOSH did result in suggested improvements in this facility. These suggestions are presented in the Recommendations section of this report.