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Bioaerosol, particulate, quartz, hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds concentrations associated with a landslide at a municipal waste landfill.

Almaguer-D; Martinez-K
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :70
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request to assess exposures at a municipal waste landfill where a slope failure exposed approximately 22 acres of garbage. Samples were collected at three on-site locations and three offsite perimeter locations to assess general area airborne concentrations of culturable microorganisms (i.e., fungi, total bacteria, and enteric bacteria), fungal spores, and endotoxins; as well as particulates, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The results of sampling for culturable enteric bacteria are indicative of possible microbiological dissemination from the working face of the landfill to perimeter areas. While the air sample results for fungal spore counts revealed no uniquely distinguishing findings, the concentrations detected in the landfill compactor operator's cab were consistently higher than all other sample concentrations. Finally, the air sampling results for endotoxins in the compactor cab were marginally above those from all other sample locations. The absence of definitive exposure criteria precludes the ability to assess the risks of such bioaerosol exposures. However, the airborne concentrations detected at this landfill are consistent with previous bioaerosol studies of municipal landfills reported in the literature. Levels of particulates, H2S, and VOCs at on-site and peripheral zone locations did not exceed the current occupational exposure criteria. However, the presence of quartz in total particulate samples collected in the landfill compactor operator's cab suggests the potential for employee exposures to respirable quartz, although quartz was not detected in side-by-side respirable particulate samples. This finding is consistent with the previous reports in the literature which indicate that significant exposures to total dust and respirable quartz have been associated with land filling operations. The results of this study also indicate that the highest concentrations for all substances sampled (including bioaerosols) were generally found inside the landfill compactor operator's cab. This is likely the direct result of the disruptive activity of the compactor on the landfill contents. To protect the heavy equipment operators from potentially high exposures to respirable quartz and various genera of microorganisms, it was recommended that the company investigate the retrofitting of heavy equipment operator cabs with particulate air filters.
Exposure-levels; Air-contamination; Air-quality; Air-samples; Airborne-particles; Airborne-dusts; Particulates; Dusts; Dust-particles; Microorganisms; Fungi; Endotoxins; Organic-compounds; Volatiles; Bacteria; Bacterial-dusts; Bacterial-disease; Quartz-dust
14808-60-7; 7783-06-4
Publication Date
Document Type
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division