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Respiratory protection from isocyanate exposure in the autobody repair and refinishing industry.

Liu Y; Stowe MH; Bello D; Woskie SR; Sparer J; Gore R; Youngs F; Cullen MR; Redlich CA
J Occup Environ Hyg 2006 May; 3(5):234-249
This study, part of the Survey of Painters and Repairers of Auto bodies by Yale (SPRAY), evaluated the effectiveness of respiratory protection against exposure to aliphatic polyisocyanates. A total of 36 shops were assessed for respiratory protection program completeness; 142 workers were measured for respirator fit factor (FF) using PortaCount Plus respirator fit tester. Twenty-two painters from 21 shops were sampled using NIOSH method 5525 to determine the workplace protection factor (WPF) of negative pressure, air-purifying half-facepiece respirators equipped with organic vapor cartridges and paint prefilters during spray-painting and priming activities. Only 11 shops (30%) had written respiratory protection programs. Eighty percent of all fit tested workers passed the test on the first try with FF >or= 100, and 92% passed the second test after respirator use training. Overall geometric mean (GM) FF was 1012 for all fit tested workers. Significant differences on pass rate (92% vs. 72%) and on FF (1990 vs. 736) were found between previously fit tested workers vs. nontested workers. Twenty-nine WPF samples were collected. The outside facepiece GM concentration of total isocyanate group (NCO) was 378.4 micro g NCO/m(3) with 96% concentrations exceeding the U.K. short-term exposure limit, 70 micro g NCO/m(3), but no in-facepiece concentrations exceeded the limit. The GM WPF of total NCO was 319 (GSD 4) and the 5th percentile was 54. WPF of total NCO was positively correlated with the duration of painting task. FF positively correlated with WPF when FF was <or=450 but negatively correlated with WPF when FF was >450. We conclude that negative pressure, air-purifying half-facepiece respirators equipped with organic vapor cartridges and paint prefilters provide effective protection against isocyanate exposure in spray and priming operations if workers are properly trained and fitted.
Respiratory-protection; Isocyanates; Automotive-industry; Automobile-repair-shops; Occupational-exposure; Painters; Painting; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Exposure-assessment; Inhalation-studies; Environmental-health-monitoring; Pollution
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-003457; Grant-Number-R01-OH-034506; Grant-Number-R01-OH-004246
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division