Our everyday encounters with typical background levels of microorganisms generally do not pose a significant occupational health risk to healthy adults. However, certain contaminated environments present unique exposure concerns due to the nature of the microorganisms encountered, the concentrations of the microorganisms, and the susceptibility of the exposed population. Such was the case when the National Insitute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request to conduct a health hazard evaluation of a capital annex building located in the southern United States. There were approximately 50 employees working there, responsible for archiving, restoring, and displaying historical items and disseminating the state's historical information to the public. Some of these employees reported upper respiratory irritation, allergies, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), which they associated with mold contamination in their work environment. An initial investigation, which established the presence of two primary indoor microbiological contamination sources, was conducted in July 1996. A second, more extensive investgation was conducted in December of the same year to better characterize the nature and extent of the microbiological contamination. The case study presents the findings from these investigations.
Smoking; Cigarette-smoking; Cigarette-manufacturing; Occupational-health; Occupational-safety-programs; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Plants; Airborne-particles; Pesticides; Microorganisms; Health-hazards; Molds; Work-environment; Respiratory-system-disorders; Allergies; Hypersensitivity; Case-studies