Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2003-0203-2952, Wallace Computer Services, Clinton, Illinois.
Investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) responded to a confidential request for a health hazard evaluation (HHE) from printing press operators at Wallace Computer Services, Clinton, Illinois. These employees had symptoms perceived to be caused by exposure to inks and solvents on the job. NIOSH investigators visited the facility to characterize workers' exposures, evaluate symptoms, and provide recommendations to reduce the potential for health hazards. Personal breathing zone (PBZ) air sampling was conducted for trimethylbenzenes (TMBs) and trichloroethylene (TCE); results ranged from 0.3 to 9.5 parts per million (ppm) and not detected to 25 ppm, respectively. The NIOSH recommended exposure limit (REL) for both of these chemicals is 25 ppm for up to a 10-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Only 1 of 20 full-shift PBZ air samples for TCE reached the NIOSH REL of 25 ppm, and this exposure was likely due to a press operator's use of the cleaner which contained TCE. Other press operators did not routinely use this product, and the company has replaced this cleaner with one not containing TCE. Area air samples were collected for 2-butoxyethanol, carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone. Concentrations of 2-butoxyethanol ranged from 0.2 to 1.2 ppm (below the REL of 5 ppm). Concentrations of CO ranged up to 17 ppm, below the REL of 35 ppm. Ozone was not detected. Noise dosimetry revealed that 12 of 13 employees monitored exceeded the NIOSH REL of 85 dB(A). Questionnaires covering personal, medical and work histories, as well as work-related symptoms, were administered to press operators and to office workers as a comparison. There was a significantly higher prevalence of rash/skin irritation on the hands or arms, and burning/runny nose among press operators. There was also a higher prevalence of work-related wheezing, burning/watery eyes, and sore throat among press operators, but this was not statistically significant. These symptoms are consistent with solvent exposure. NIOSH investigators concluded that a health hazard existed due to dermal exposures to solvents, noise exposures, and the improper use of personal protective equipment. Recommendations which included eliminating solvents that contained TCE, starting a hearing conservation program, enforcing the use of appropriate protective gloves, and covering unused solvent containers, were implemented by the company.
Region-5; Hazards-Confirmed; Solvents; Solvent-vapors; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Skin-exposure; Skin-irritants; Eye-irritants; Organic-solvents; Organic-compounds; Organic-chemicals; Volatiles; Printing-industry; Printing-inks; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment