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Engineering control of airborne contaminants at a microwave popcorn packaging plant.

Boylstein-R; Piacitelli-C; Kullman-G; Jones-W; Heitbrink-W
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :36
Severe respiratory disease has been reported in several workers in a microwave popcorn packaging plant. NIOSH was requested to find the cause and make recommendations for control. After providing initial respirator training and fit testing for workers in the highest expo- sure categories, attention turned to engineering solutions. Qualitative sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) indicated that ketones including diacetyl, acetoin, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and 2-nonanone were predominant. Direct reading monitors were used to identify exposure point sources for VOCs and real time area aerosol measurements were collected in the form of a matrix throughout the production area. In order to relate workplace dynamics to exposure, real time personal aerosol measurements were time-synchronized with video signals captured during various activities. Diacetyl was selected as a marker agent and personal and area samples were collected for this compound. The microwave mixing room was the primary point source for VOC exposures, and initial engineering changes involved increased ventilation and isolation of this area. Overlay of the direct reading aerosol data onto video helped us to pin-point specific work practices which resulted in increased exposure and recommendations to modify such practices were made. Comparison of measurements made before and after these changes showed a 3- to 12-fold drop in diacetyl concentration for specific personal and area sampling pairs. Total organic vapor concentrations also fell markedly for various production line jobs. The long-term effect of these and future engineering exposure control changes will be assessed through longitudinal environmental and clinical study.
Engineering-controls; Airborne-particles; Respiratory-system-disorders; Diseases; Workers; Qualitative-analysis; Sampling; Exposure-levels
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Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division