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Biological contaminants assessment at a former tannery.

Delaney L
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :94
A tannery was abandoned in 1994 leaving behind equipment, files, chemicals, and processed and unprocessed hides, fleshings (pieces of skin and fat), and animal hair of unknown origin. In the summer of 2001, remediation workers began cleanup and removal of biological and chemical contaminants from the site. Remediation employees were concerned about the potential for exposure to anthrax and other microorganisms during these planned remediation activities. A walkthrough of the site was conducted to visually evaluate the extent of biological contamination, evaluate work practices, and discuss strategies to minimize exposures to biological contaminants. Additional research after the site visit included a literature search on the biological hazards associated with tanneries and potential anthrax exposure and consultation with infectious disease researchers. The potential for zoonotic disease from remediation activities at this tannery was minimal. Most zoonotic diseases can only be spread while the animal is still alive and would not survive outside a living host for extended periods. While Bacillus anthracis B. (anthracis) can sporulate and survive for many decades, the potential exposure to remediation workers was minimal due to the characteristics of the bacteria (low secondary aerosolization potential and high infectious dose concentration). Visible microbial contamination, consistent with mold growth that would occur in unmaintained facilities, was present throughout the site. Remediation of the site would likely result in the disruption of these microbiological reservoirs. As such, recommendations on personal protective equipment and work practices (i.e., wet method of decontainment, barrier isolation, and decontamination procedures) were provided to reduce exposures to bioaerosols. In addition, hazard communication training for biological contaminants was also recommended.
Biological-agents; Workers; Microorganisms; Exposure-levels; Hazards; Bacteria; Disease-prevention; Chemical-properties; Zoonoses; Infectious-diseases; Tanning-industry
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division