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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of potential employee exposures during crime and death investigations at a county coroner's office.

King BS; Musolin K; Choi J
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 2011-0146-3170, 2013 Mar; :1-41
The HHE Program evaluated employees' exposures during crime and death investigations at a coroner's office. Investigators observed work practices and procedures and interviewed employees about their work and health. Investigators sampled the air for formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, airborne particles, and ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate. Samples were taken during autopsy procedures, tissue prepping and processing, and fingerprint fuming operations. Investigators also sampled for lead in the air and on surfaces in the firearms section and sampled for residual drug particles in the air and on surfaces in the drug evidence laboratory. The ventilation system was also assessed. Investigators found that some exposures to formaldehyde in the autopsy suite were above the recommended ceiling limits and that the number of air changes per hour was below the recommended level. Airborne drug particles were found in samples taken during drug analyses and on the surfaces in the drug evidence laboratory. In the firearms section, air did not flow from the shooter towards the target as recommended and lead contamination was found on surfaces in the firing room. Investigators determined that airborne concentrations of lead may be a health hazard to firearm investigators involved in multiple weapons testing sessions in one shift. For the autopsy suite, HHE Program investigators recommended increasing room exhaust, installing downdraft tables, removing items blocking exhaust fans, using local exhaust ventilation attachments when doing cranial autopsies, and opening containers of formaldehyde only when needed. For the drug evidence laboratory, they recommended using a high-efficiency particulate air filtered hood for procedures that produce airborne drug particles and improving housekeeping. To reduce lead exposures, they recommended modifying the supply and exhaust ventilation in the firing room to provide a laminar flow of air from the shooter towards the bullet trap and using a high-efficiency particulate air filtered vacuum or wet mopping methods to clean the firing range. Throughout the facility, they identified the need for employees to wash their hands with warm water and soap after completing work activities.
Region-5; Work-practices; Public-health; Organic-compounds; Volatiles; Airborne-particles; Particulates; Particulate-dust; Aerosols; Aerosol-particles; Lead-dust; Heavy-metals; Metal-dusts; Drugs; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Exhaust-ventilation; Author Keywords: Police Protection; Administration of Public Health Programs; coroner; autopsies; histology; firearms; fingerprints; drugs; evidence; formaldehyde; lead; ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate; cocaine; marijuana; methamphetamine; heroin; surface contamination
50-00-0; 7439-92-1; 7085-85-0
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2011-0146-3170; B20130321
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
NAICS-922120; NAICS-923120
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division