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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of occupational exposures at an electronic scrap recycling facility.

Ceballos D; Chen L; Page E; Echt A; Oza A; Ramsey 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 2012-0100-3217, 2014 Jul; :1-47
The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from a health and safety manager at an electronic scrap recycling facility. The employer was concerned about workplace exposures, including lead and cadmium. Computers, monitors, hard drives, televisions, printers, light bulbs, and other e-scrap were recycled and processed at this facility. The recycling operations included cathode ray tube (CRT) processing (demanufacturing and glass breaking operations, and electronic sorting, demanufacturing, shredding, and bailing operations for all other electronics. We made multiple visits between 2012 and 2013 to evaluate employee exposures to workplace contaminants. We collected air samples for metals, dust, and crystalline silica; surface wipe samples for metals; and blood and urine samples for metals. We also did employee medical interviews; reviewed the facility's health and safety monitoring plans; and evaluated noise, engineering controls, and ergonomics in the work areas. We measured an overexposure to lead during shredder sorting and overexposures to cadmium on two employees during CRT buffing and grinding. We measured overexposures to noise on employees during CRT buffing and grinding, shredder sorting, forklift driving, and baling. We found metal contamination on surfaces throughout the facility; potentially contaminated air was recirculated back into the production area. We found lead on the clothing and skin of employees and on work surfaces. Blood lead levels ranged up to 13.7 micrograms per deciliter of blood. Two employees were above 10; a level of 10 or above is considered elevated. We noted the potential for taking lead and other contaminants outside of the workplace. Employees were exposed to ergonomic risk factors including extreme working postures, forceful exertions, and repetitive motions. Our recommendations to the employer included (1) following the OSHA lead and cadmium standards, (2) starting a medical monitoring program for all employees exposed to lead, (3) starting a hearing conservation program, (4) requiring respirator use in CRT buffing and grinding and shredder operations, (5) using wet methods or a vacuum with a high efficiency air filter instead of sweeping, and (6) designing work tasks and workstations to reduce bending, lifting, and other postures that do not allow employees to work efficiently and comfortably. We recommended the employees (1) provide and discuss this report with their doctor and discuss blood lead tests for their children and other family members, (2) wear required personal protective equipment, and (3) take a shower at the end of the shift and avoid wearing work clothing or shoes home.
Heavy-metals; Metals; Metal-poisoning; Noise; Racial-factors; Ventilation; Engineering-controls; Control-technology; Electronic-components; Electronic-devices; Electronic-equipment; Ergonomics; Repetitive-work; Cumulative-trauma; Medical-examinations; Medical-screening; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Author Keywords: Recyclable Material Merchant Wholesalers; electronic scrap recycling; lead; cadmium; mercury; noise; Hispanic workforce; French speaking workforce; ventilation; engineering controls; silica; dust
7439-92-1; 7440-43-9; 7439-97-6; 14808-60-7
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2012-0100-3217; M082014
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
SIC Code
Source Name
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