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Identifying sources of potential arsenic exposures at a former uranium enrichment scrap yard operation.

Methner M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2004 May; :75
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was asked to evaluate worker exposure to inorganic arsenic fume during torch-cutting operations in a scrap yard located within a former uranium enrichment facility. Arsenic, a recognized carcinogen, was a contaminant that was inadvertently introduced into the enrichment system and subsequently bonded to the internal surfaces of process equipment. When the enrichment system formally ceased operations, process components needed to be dismantled and reduced in size via torch-cutting prior to off-site disposal. As a result of the torch-cutting, arsenic fume is released and employees are exposed. NIOSH reviewed the site's arsenic exposure control plan and the historical air sampling and biological monitoring data, observed work practices, examined the local exhaust ventilation system used for fume control, and collected Ghostwipe samples from various surfaces as a qualitative indicator of potential sources of arsenic exposure. Major findings of this study were: (1) wipe samples indicated "freshly cleaned" respirators had measurable levels of inorganic arsenic (range = 0-16 micrograms/ wipe); (2) the local exhaust ventilation system needed maintenance (e.g., hole found in duct); (3) the ventilation hood did not provide effective fume capture; and (4) workers did not wear respirators at all times when working within the arsenic control area. Recommendations included improving the current ventilation system by moving the exhaust hood closer to the point of fume generation (1-2 feet away), installing a flange on the hood to increase fume capture, continue monitoring air and urine levels of arsenic, encouraging employees to shave facial hair daily to assure better respirator fit, and develop a more effective respirator washing procedure.
Arsenic-compounds; Occupational-exposure; Uranium-compounds; Carcinogens; Air-sampling; Biological-monitoring; Work-practices; Exhaust-systems; Ventilation-systems; Respirators; Demolition-industry
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division