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Evaluation of a medicinal cannabis manufacturing facility with an indoor and outdoor grow operation (superseded).

Couch J; Wiegand D; Grimes GR; Green BJ; Lemons AR; Glassford E; Zwack L; Jackson SR; Beezhold D
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, HHE 2016-0090-3317, 2018 Jun; :1-49
This document has been superseded and the new version can be found <a href=""target="_blank">here</a>. The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from a union representative for a medical cannabis facility with an indoor and outdoor grow operation. The representative was concerned about the potential occupational and safety hazards associated with the harvesting and processing of cannabis. The indoor and outdoor grow facility grew Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Chemical pesticides were not used on the cannabis crop. We evaluated chemical and microbial hazards, conducted medical interviews with employees about their health concerns, administered a medical survey including a questionnaire, and evaluated employees' lung functioning using spirometry. We observed work practices related to cultivation, harvesting, processing, and decarboxylation. We found delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol acid, cannabidiol, and cannabinol in surface wipe samples throughout the facility. Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione were identified in screening air samples, but later were not quantifiable in personal air samples. Agaricomycetes were the most common fungal class identified during both site visits. Full-shift endotoxin concentrations were all below the occupational exposure limit, but were higher during a short grinding task. Employees reported moderate job stress overall; the most frequent report was a heavy workload. Employees reported safety concerns related to working with high pressure carbon dioxide, exit doors needing a badge to unlock, ergonomics, and working with large amounts of solvents. Some employees reported allergic, irritant, and musculoskeletal symptoms. Breathing test results were normal for seven of eight employees tested; one result showed mild lung restriction. We recommended local exhaust ventilation for the grinding operations, moving the decarboxylation process to a seldom occupied area in the facility, developing a cleaning schedule to remove cannabis components from work and tool surfaces, and encouraging employees to report new or ongoing symptoms to their personal healthcare provider.
Region 5; Cannabis; Marijuana; Medicinal chemicals; Medical treatment; Agriculture; Agricultural workers; Exposure assessment; Indoor environments; Outdoors; Volatile organic compounds; VOCs; Work operations; Chemical hazards; Microorganisms; Fungi; Pulmonary function; Pulmonary function tests; Job stress; Health surveys; Questionnaires; Spirometry; Work practices; Sampling; Air sampling; Endotoxins; Solvents; Ergonomics; Allergic disorders; Musculoskeletal system disorders; MSD; Exhaust ventilation; Chemical processing; Medical monitoring; Author Keywords: Marijuana, Grown Under Cover; Cannabis; Agriculture; VOC; Fungus; Pulmonary Function Tests; PFTs; Job Stress
8063-14-7; 1972-08-3; 13956-29-1; 521-35-7; 431-03-8; 600-14-6; 124-38-9
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Field Studies; Health Hazard Evaluation
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Priority Area
Healthcare and Social Assistance; Services
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division