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Orthopedic casting materials: an unusual source of isocyanate exposure.

Tumpowsky CM
SENSOR Occup Lung Dis Bull 1999 Oct; :1-3
Mass SENSOR routinely interviews all occupational asthma cases reported to the program to learn more about the worksite exposures which contributed to the patients' conditions. For some of these cases, worksite evaluations are conducted. Worksite evaluations are considered a priority for cases where the asthma trigger is a known or suspected sensitizer and/or when co-workers appear to be at risk. In this issue, we present the results of an interesting worksite evaluation. The case, which was reported to Mass SENSOR, involved a previously unrecognized source of isocyanate exposure (orthopedic casts) and provided an opportunity for Mass SENSOR to work with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) through their Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program. Isocyanates are known asthma causing agents. Health Care Providers may request an HHE from NIOSH on behalf of their patients. If you see a case that you believe warrants a worksite investigation, please let us know when you report the case. Introduction: Upon request from employees, employee representatives, or employers, NIOSH conducts field investigations of potential health hazards in the workplace. These investigations, called Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) are conducted to determine whether or not any substance normally found in the place of employment has potentially toxic effects. During the summer of 1998, MassSENSOR received a report of a case of work-related asthma in a chemist who had worked for a manufacturer of orthopedic materials. In November of 1998, after interviewing the patient to learn more about his exposures at the worksite, MassSENSOR requested assistance from NIOSH's HHE program. In particular, MassSENSOR requested NIOSH's assistance in gathering information about: chemicals in use; severity of inhalation exposures; the potential for dermal absorption; the adequacy of ventilation and work practices used to limit exposures. We were also interested in knowing if the employer had a Hazard Communication program and employee training related to exposures and controls. The specific purpose of the NIOSH evaluation was to determine if currently employed workers were at risk for developing asthma from exposures at this workplace.
Occupational-diseases; Occupational-health; Lung-disease; Work-environment; Workers; Occupational-exposure; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Employee-exposure; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Health-care; Disease-prevention; Airway-resistance; Surveillance-programs; Medical-monitoring; Lung-irritants; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Isocyanates; Medical-equipment; Workplace-studies; Health-hazards; Chemical-manufacturing-industry; Case-studies
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
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Cooperative Agreement
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SENSOR Occupational Lung Disease Bulletin
Performing Organization
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division