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Exposure surveillance of museum workers to residual pesticides on collections.

Makos K; Burroughs G
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :18
From the 18th century to the mid-20th century, a variety of pesticides were commonly applied to organic specimens in museum and academic collections as a preservative and insecticide. Two of the most widely used chemicals were inorganic arsenic, primarily arsenic trioxide, and mercuric chloride. Residual particulates from these compounds, as well as sublimated mercury vapor, pose potential occupational exposures for conservators, collections managers, and research scientists whose jobs include the study, handling, and care of treated collections. As part of a joint project to characterize industry-wide exposures among museum employees, NIOSH and the Smithsonian Institution analyzed over 50 breathing zone air samples, 85 dermal wipe samples, and 25 total dose urine specimens for arsenic and mercury. Airborne arsenic levels and mercury vapor levels were reported at less than half the recommended maximums of 10 micrograms per cubic meter and 25 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively. Airborne mercuric chloride particulate was not detected. Total dose urine results have been below the respective BEIs and typically within their expected clinical range for the general population. Results suggest the effectiveness of gloves, careful specimen handling, use of HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners for routine specimen and storage case cleaning, judicious use of ventilation to purge cases before specimen access, and employee awareness training in controlling exposures to residual pesticides in a museum environment.
Exposure-levels; Employees; Employee-exposure; Toxins; Preservatives; Pesticides; Dusts; Dust-particles; Dust-exposure; Solvents; Sampling; Organic-compounds; Insecticides; Arsenic-compounds; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Mercury-compounds; Vapors; Urinalysis; Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Filters; Vacuum-cleaning-systems; Vacuum-equipment; Ventilation; Training
7440-38-2; 1327-53-3; 7487-94-7
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division