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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2009-0070-3137, evaluation of exposure to toluene, ethanol, and isopropanol at an electronics manufacturer - Ohio.

Niemeier RT
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2009-0070-3137, 2011 Aug; :1-17
In January 2009, NIOSH received an HHE request from an electronics manufacturer in Ohio. The request concerned the potential for exposure to toluene and ethanol when gluing and oven curing electrical contacts to electrical shells and exposure to isopropanol when placing rubber inserts and electrical contacts into electrical shells. NIOSH investigators made site visits to the electronics manufacturer facility on February 23, 2009, and June 18, 2009. We walked through the facility and observed work processes, practices, and conditions. We spoke with employees about health and workplace concerns and collected air samples. We used colorimetric detection tubes on February 23, 2009, to estimate air concentrations of toluene and ethanol in the gluing and oven curing area. On a return site visit on June 18, 2009, we collected full-shift and short-term air samples for toluene and ethanol in the gluing and oven curing area. We also collected task-based and short-term air samples for isopropanol in the shell dipping area. We evaluated the LEV in the gluing and oven curing area using a thermoanemometer and smoke tubes. Finally, we used colorimetric lead swabs to determine if lead was present on the electrical shells. We detected measurable levels of toluene, ethanol, and isopropanol; however, all samples were less than 6% of applicable OELs. Some skin contact to isopropanol was observed during the shell dipping process. Employees did not wear gloves to protect against skin exposure to these chemicals. LEV systems in the gluing and oven curing area were present but were not working optimally. Lead was not detected on the surface of the electrical shells. Several strategies could be used to minimize exposures and improve effectiveness of the LEV systems in the gluing and oven curing area. When the LEV on either the gluing station or oven is not in use, close the damper to increase the capture efficiency. Redesign the hood types and/or place the hoods closer to contaminants for better capture efficiency. Similarly, for the shell dipping area, an LEV unit could be added to reduce nuisance odors. Gloves should be used if dermal exposure to the glue or shell dipping solution is anticipated. Employees who choose to wear respiratory protection voluntarily during work activities should be provided with Appendix D of the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134). NIOSH investigators evaluated the potential for exposure to chemicals at an electrical connector manufacturer. We found that the air concentrations of toluene, ethanol, and isopropanol were very low, less than 6% of OELs. To reduce toluene and ethanol nuisance odors, we recommend changes to the LEV in the gluing and oven curing area. Additionally, installing LEV in the shell dipping area may reduce isopropanol nuisance odors.
Region 5; Work-operations; Work-practices; Air-sampling; Solvents; Skin-absorption; Skin-exposure; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Ventilation-hoods; Exhaust-ventilation; Gloves; Protective-clothing; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Author Keywords: Other electronic parts and equipment merchant wholesalers; toluene; ethanol; isopropanol; lead; local exhaust ventilation; LEV; nuisance odors; skin contact
64-17-5; 67-63-0; 108-88-3; 7439-92-1
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division