Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2006-0343-3045, nuisance odors from a neighboring printing facility-air quality evaluation at a label distributing company, Schreiner Label Tech, Southfield, Michigan.
In August 2006, NIOSH received a management request from Schreiner Label Tech (Schreiner) for an HHE at their facility in Southfield, Michigan. Employees at the Schreiner facility were reporting watery eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, sneezing, and headaches that they believed were the result of exposure to chemicals from the printing company next door. The Schreiner facility consists of several offices and a small warehouse from which labels and self-adhesive products are distributed. It occupies a suite next to a printing company in an industrial mall. MSDSs for the inks used by the printing company indicate that the inks contain petroleum distillates. NIOSH investigators conducted an evaluation of the Schreiner facility from November 27-28, 2006. During the evaluation we observed how air flowed between the Schreiner facility and the printing company, collected GA air samples for VOCs in both facilities, and interviewed Schreiner facility employees. We found that air flowed from the printing company to the Schreiner facility indicating that the Schreiner facility was under negative air pressure relative to the printing company. In addition, several cracks were found in the wall separating the Schreiner facility and the printing company. These openings and pressure differentials allowed printing ink vapors to enter the Schreiner facility. We found similar chemical compounds in the samples collected in the two facilities; concentrations in the printing company were higher. Area air sampling results for samples collected in both facilities indicated that concentrations of 1,2,4- trimethylbenzene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, and petroleum distillates were below applicable occupational exposure limits. However, concentrations of toluene and xylene were above their odor thresholds. Placing the Schreiner facility under positive pressure and sealing the cracks in the common wall should reduce the concentration of VOCs and reduce employees' symptoms. While airborne concentrations of VOCs measured at the Schreiner facility were below applicable occupational exposure limits, six of the seven employees reported eye irritation and headaches. NIOSH recommended placing the Schreiner facility under positive pressure and sealing the cracks in the common wall between the two facilities.