NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

At the bottom of the seaway: a NIOSH investigation at an unusual worksite.

Ewers L; Nemhauser J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :53-54
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a health hazard evaluation (HHE) at the Eisenhower and Snell Locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway, near Massena, New York. "Flu-like symptoms" and "general ill health" were primary concerns among workers exposed to stagnant water and decaying marine life during the annual winter inspection, cleaning, and repairs of these locks. The year prior to the request, a worker had collapsed from unknown causes at the bottom of the lock. During two site visits, NIOSH researchers collected environmental air samples and personal breathing zone samples for endotoxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and silica. Sampling results revealed intermittently elevated concentrations of H2S (maximum recorded peak = 87 ppm, NIOSH recommended ceiling value = 10 ppm), associated with chipping cement from lock walls and elevated concentrations of endotoxins in environmental samples in some areas (Range = Not Detectable - 20.3 endotoxin units/m3). No VOCs, CO, or silica air concentrations exceeded NIOSH or OSHA criteria. Issues regarding confined space entry were encountered. Existing medical information from interviews and records was not sufficient to allow us to draw conclusions concerning work-relatedness of symptoms or trends in annual recurrence of illness. Investigators concluded that exposures to high concentrations of H2S, and endotoxins are possible at the St. Lawrence Seaway during repairs and maintenance work. Recommendations included increasing ventilation, use of H2S continuous-reading gas monitors, development of a confined-space entry plan, and institution of a symptom surveillance program.
Workers; Water-analysis; Marine-workers; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-health; Health-hazards; Air-samples; Environmental-contamination; Breathing-zone; Sampling; Endotoxins; Exposure-levels; Ventilation-systems; Surveillance-programs; Microorganisms
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division