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1.  Workplace Determinants of Endotoxin Exposure in Dental Healthcare Facilities in South Africa 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;54(3):299-308.
Objectives: Aerosols generated during dental procedures have been reported to contain endotoxin as a result of bacterial contamination of dental unit water lines. This study investigated the determinants of airborne endotoxin exposure in dental healthcare settings.
Methods: The study population included dental personnel (n = 454) from five academic dental institutions in South Africa. Personal air samples (n = 413) in various dental jobs and water samples (n = 403) from dental handpieces and basin taps were collected. The chromogenic-1000 limulus amebocyte lysate assay was used to determine endotoxin levels. Exposure metrics were developed on the basis of individually measured exposures and average levels within each job category. Analysis of variance and multivariate linear regression models were constructed to ascertain the determinants of exposure in the dental group.
Results: There was a 2-fold variation in personal airborne endotoxin from the least exposed (administration) to the most exposed (laboratory) jobs (geometric mean levels: 2.38 versus 5.63 EU m−3). Three percent of personal samples were above DECOS recommended exposure limit (50 EU m−3). In the univariate linear models, the age of the dental units explained the most variability observed in the personal air samples (R2 = 0.20, P < 0.001), followed by the season of the year (R2 = 0.11, P < 0.001). Other variables such as institution and total number of dental units per institution also explained a modest degree of variability. A multivariate model explaining the greatest variability (adjusted R2 = 0.40, P < 0.001) included: the age of institution buildings, total number of dental units per institution, ambient temperature, ambient air velocity, endotoxin levels in water, job category (staff versus students), dental unit model type and age of dental unit.
Conclusions: Apart from job type, dental unit characteristics are important predictors of airborne endotoxin levels in this setting.
PMCID: PMC2848299  PMID: 20044586
aerosols; dentistry; DUWLs; endotoxin; occupational hazard
2.  Quantitative Plasma Biomarker Analysis in HDI Exposure Assessment 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;54(1):41-54.
Quantification of amines in biological samples is important for evaluating occupational exposure to diisocyanates. In this study, we describe the quantification of 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA) levels in hydrolyzed plasma of 46 spray painters applying 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI)-containing paint in vehicle repair shops collected during repeated visits to their workplace and their relationship with dermal and inhalation exposure to HDI monomer. HDA was detected in 76% of plasma samples, as heptafluorobutyryl derivatives, and the range of HDA concentrations was ≤0.02–0.92 μg l−1. After log-transformation of the data, the correlation between plasma HDA levels and HDI inhalation exposure measured on the same workday was low (N = 108, r = 0.22, P = 0.026) compared with the correlation between plasma HDA levels and inhalation exposure occurring ∼20 to 60 days before blood collection (N = 29, r = 0.57, P = 0.0014). The correlation between plasma HDA levels and HDI dermal exposure measured on the same workday, although statistically significant, was low (N = 108, r = 0.22, P = 0.040) while the correlation between HDA and dermal exposure occurring ∼20 to 60 days before blood collection was slightly improved (N = 29, r = 0.36, P = 0.053). We evaluated various workplace factors and controls (i.e. location, personal protective equipment use and paint booth type) as modifiers of plasma HDA levels. Workers using a downdraft-ventilated booth had significantly lower plasma HDA levels relative to semi-downdraft and crossdraft booth types (P = 0.0108); this trend was comparable to HDI inhalation and dermal exposure levels stratified by booth type. These findings indicate that HDA concentration in hydrolyzed plasma may be used as a biomarker of cumulative inhalation and dermal exposure to HDI and for investigating the effectiveness of exposure controls in the workplace.
PMCID: PMC2802519  PMID: 19805392
biomarker; dermal exposure; 1,6-hexamethylene diamine (HDA); 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI); inhalation exposure; plasma
3.  CFD Simulation of Contaminant Decay for High Reynolds Flow in a Controlled Environment 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;54(1):88-99.
This study examines the usage of computational fluid dynamics (CFDs) for estimating the time-elapsed decay of contaminants within a chamber experiencing high Reynolds flow. CFD results were compared with measurements taken at a controlled facility. In addition, parameters of the CFD simulation were examined; namely the effects of turbulence and inertial transport at high Reynolds number ventilating flows, as well as inlet duct configuration and its effect on the inlet velocity profile. The agreement between the computational and experimental clearance times was quite good, with percent errors as low as −5.32% at high flow rate and −11.8% at the lower flow rate. This study determined that for high Reynolds flow, diffusive transport effects may be ignored as the majority of mass is transported via the bulk stream, i.e. momentum transport. In addition, resolving the inlet velocity profile was of prime importance for accurate simulation of ventilating flows and prediction of contaminant washout. This was done by including the inlet duct geometry in the computational domain. In addition, it was found that despite different flow rates, the predicted contaminant washout took ∼12–13% longer than predicted assuming instantaneous mixing. Furthermore, percent error between computational and experimental data as low as −5.32% shows that CFD is a useful tool for studying ventilation phenomena.
PMCID: PMC2852149  PMID: 19671796
carbon dioxide; computational fluid dynamics; contaminant transport; indoor air quality; Reynolds number; species decay
4.  Evaluation of Five Decontamination Methods for Filtering Facepiece Respirators 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(8):815-827.
Concerns have been raised regarding the availability of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) during an influenza pandemic. One possible strategy to mitigate a respirator shortage is to reuse FFRs following a biological decontamination process to render infectious material on the FFR inactive. However, little data exist on the effects of decontamination methods on respirator integrity and performance. This study evaluated five decontamination methods [ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), ethylene oxide, vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP), microwave oven irradiation, and bleach] using nine models of NIOSH-certified respirators (three models each of N95 FFRs, surgical N95 respirators, and P100 FFRs) to determine which methods should be considered for future research studies. Following treatment by each decontamination method, the FFRs were evaluated for changes in physical appearance, odor, and laboratory performance (filter aerosol penetration and filter airflow resistance). Additional experiments (dry heat laboratory oven exposures, off-gassing, and FFR hydrophobicity) were subsequently conducted to better understand material properties and possible health risks to the respirator user following decontamination. However, this study did not assess the efficiency of the decontamination methods to inactivate viable microorganisms. Microwave oven irradiation melted samples from two FFR models. The remainder of the FFR samples that had been decontaminated had expected levels of filter aerosol penetration and filter airflow resistance. The scent of bleach remained noticeable following overnight drying and low levels of chlorine gas were found to off-gas from bleach-decontaminated FFRs when rehydrated with deionized water. UVGI, ethylene oxide (EtO), and VHP were found to be the most promising decontamination methods; however, concerns remain about the throughput capabilities for EtO and VHP. Further research is needed before any specific decontamination methods can be recommended.
PMCID: PMC2781738  PMID: 19805391
decontamination; filtering facepiece respirator; healthcare workers; N95 respirator; pandemic influenza; respirator reuse
5.  Quantification and Statistical Modeling—Part I: Breathing-Zone Concentrations of Monomeric and Polymeric 1,6-Hexamethylene Diisocyanate 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):677-689.
We conducted a repeated exposure-assessment survey for task-based breathing-zone concentrations (BZCs) of monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) during spray painting on 47 automotive spray painters from North Carolina and Washington State. We report here the use of linear mixed modeling to identify the primary determinants of the measured BZCs. Both one-stage (N = 98 paint tasks) and two-stage (N = 198 paint tasks) filter sampling was used to measure concentrations of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate. The geometric mean (GM) level of isocyanurate (1410 μg m−3) was higher than all other analytes (i.e. GM < 7.85 μg m−3). The mixed models were unique to each analyte and included factors such as analyte-specific paint concentration, airflow in the paint booth, and sampler type. The effect of sampler type was corroborated by side-by-side one- and two-stage personal air sampling (N = 16 paint tasks). According to paired t-tests, significantly higher concentrations of HDI (P = 0.0363) and isocyanurate (P = 0.0035) were measured using one-stage samplers. Marginal R2 statistics were calculated for each model; significant fixed effects were able to describe 25, 52, 54, and 20% of the variability in BZCs of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate, respectively. Mixed models developed in this study characterize the processes governing individual polyisocyanate BZCs. In addition, the mixed models identify ways to reduce polyisocyanate BZCs and, hence, protect painters from potential adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC2758668  PMID: 19622637
air sampling; exposure determinants; hexamethylene diisocyanate; isocyanate; statistical modeling
6.  Quantification and Statistical Modeling—Part II: Dermal Concentrations of Monomeric and Polymeric 1,6-Hexamethylene Diisocyanate 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):691-702.
We conducted a quantitative dermal and inhalation exposure assessment of monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanates (HDI) in 47 automotive spray painters from North Carolina and Washington State. We report here the use of linear mixed modeling (LMM) to identify the primary determinants of dermal exposure. Dermal concentrations of HDI, uretidone, biuret, and isocyanurate were significantly higher in 15 painters who did not wear coveralls or gloves (N = 51 paint tasks) than in 32 painters who did wear coveralls and gloves (N = 192 paint tasks) during spray painting. Regardless of whether protective clothing was worn, isocyanurate was the predominant species measured in the skin [geometric mean (GM) = 33.8 ng mm−3], with a 95% detection rate. Other polyisocyanates (GM ≤ 0.17 ng mm−3) were detected in skin during <23% of the paint tasks. According to marginal R2 statistics, mixed models generated in this study described no <36% of the variability in dermal concentrations of the different polyisocyanates measured in painters who did not wear protective clothing. These models also described 55% of the variability in dermal concentrations of isocyanurate measured in all painters (N = 288 paint tasks). The product of analyte-specific breathing-zone concentration (BZC) and paint time was the most significant variable in all the models. Through LMM, a better understanding of the exposure pathways governing individual polyisocyanate exposures may be achieved. In particular, we were able to establish a link between BZC and dermal concentration, which may be useful for exposure reconstruction and quantitatively characterizing the protective effect of coveralls and gloves. This information can be used to reduce dermal exposures and better protect automotive spray painters from potential adverse health effects.
PMCID: PMC2758669  PMID: 19635734
dermal exposure; exposure determinants; hexamethylene diisocyanate; isocyanate; statistical modeling
7.  N-Acetyl-S-(n-Propyl)-L-Cysteine in Urine from Workers Exposed to 1-Bromopropane in Foam Cushion Spray Adhesives 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):759-769.
1-Bromopropane (1-BP) has been marketed as an alternative for ozone depleting and other solvents; it is used in aerosol products, adhesives, metal, precision, and electronics cleaning solvents. Mechanisms of toxicity of 1-BP are not fully understood, but it may be a neurological and reproductive toxicant. Sparse exposure information prompted this study using 1-BP air sampling and urinary metabolites. Mercapturic acid conjugates are excreted in urine from 1-BP metabolism involving debromination. Research objectives were to evaluate the utility of urinary N-acetyl-S-(n-propyl)-L-cysteine (AcPrCys) for assessing exposure to 1-BP and compare it to urinary bromide [Br(−)] previously reported for these workers. Forty-eight-hour urine specimens were obtained from 30 workers at two factories where 1-BP spray adhesives were used to construct polyurethane foam seat cushions. Urine specimens were also obtained from 21 unexposed control subjects. All the workers' urine was collected into composite samples representing three time intervals: at work, after work but before bedtime, and upon awakening. Time-weighted average (TWA) geometric mean breathing zone concentrations were 92.4 and 10.5 p.p.m. for spraying and non-spraying jobs, respectively. Urinary AcPrCys showed the same trend as TWA exposures to 1-BP: higher levels were observed for sprayers. Associations of AcPrCys concentrations, adjusted for creatinine, with 1-BP TWA exposure were statistically significant for both sprayers (P < 0.05) and non-sprayers (P < 0.01). Spearman correlation coefficients for AcPrCys and Br(−) analyses determined from the same urine specimens were highly correlated (P < 0.0001). This study confirms that urinary AcPrCys is an important 1-BP metabolite and an effective biomarker for highly exposed foam cushion workers.
PMCID: PMC2758670  PMID: 19706636
bromide; 1-bromopropane; CAS No. 106-94-5; foam cushion; N-acetyl-S-(n-propyl)-L-cysteine; spray adhesive; urine
8.  Development of a Sampler for Total Aerosol Deposition in the Human Respiratory Tract 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):731-738.
Studies that seek to associate reduced human health with exposure to occupational and environmental aerosols are often hampered by limitations in the exposure assessment process. One limitation involves the measured exposure metric itself. Current methods for personal exposure assessment are designed to estimate the aspiration of aerosol into the human body. Since a large proportion of inhaled aerosol is subsequently exhaled, a portion of the aspirated aerosol will not contribute to the dose. This leads to variable exposure misclassification (for heterogenous exposures) and increased uncertainty in health effect associations. Alternatively, a metric for respiratory deposition would provide a more physiologically relevant estimate of risk. To address this challenge, we have developed a method to estimate the deposition of aerosol in the human respiratory tract using a sampler engineered from polyurethane foam. Using a semi-empirical model based on inertial, gravitational, and diffusional particle deposition, a foam was engineered to mimic aerosol total deposition in the human respiratory tract. The sampler is comprised of commercially available foam with fiber diameter = 49.5 μm (equivalent to industry standard 100 PPI foam) of 8 cm thickness operating at a face velocity of 1.3 m s−1. Additionally, the foam sampler yields a relatively low-pressure drop, independent of aerosol loading, providing uniform particle collection efficiency over time.
PMCID: PMC2913619  PMID: 19638392
aerosols; exposure estimation; gravimetric analysis
9.  Field and Wind Tunnel Comparison of Four Aerosol Samplers Using Agricultural Dusts 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(6):585-594.
Occupational lung disease is a significant problem among agricultural workers exposed to organic dusts. Measurements of exposure in agricultural environments in the USA have traditionally been conducted using 37-mm closed-face cassettes (CFCs) and respirable Cyclones. Inhalable aerosol samplers offer significant improvement for dose estimation studies to reduce respiratory disease. The goals of this study were to determine correction factors between the inhalable samplers (IOM and Button) and the CFC and Cyclone for dusts sampled in livestock buildings and to determine whether these factors vary among livestock types. Determination of these correction factors will allow comparison between inhalable measurements and historical measurements. Ten sets of samples were collected in swine, chicken, turkey, and dairy facilities in both Colorado and Iowa. Pairs of each sampling device were attached to the front and back of a rotating mannequin. Laboratory studies using a still-air chamber and a wind tunnel provided information regarding the effect of wind speed on sampler performance. Overall, the IOM had the lowest coefficient of variation (best precision) and was least affected by changes in wind speed. The performance of the Button was negatively impacted in poultry environments where larger (feather) particulates clogged the holes in the initial screen. The CFC/IOM ratios are important for comparisons between newer and older studies. Wind speed and dust type were both important factors affecting ratios. Based on the field studies (Table 6), a ratio of 0.56 is suggested as a conversion factor for the CFC/IOM (average for all environments because of no statistical difference). Suggested conversion factors for the Button/IOM are swine (0.57), chicken (0.80), turkey (0.53), and dairy (0.67). Any attempt to apply a conversion factor between the Cyclone and inhalable samplers is not recommended.
PMCID: PMC2723214  PMID: 19443852
aerosol samplers; agriculture; Button sampler; correlation analysis; inhalable dust; IOM sampler; organic dust
10.  Investigation of PAH Biomarkers in the Urine of Workers Exposed to Hot Asphalt 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(6):551-560.
Airborne emissions from hot asphalt contain mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including several carcinogens. We investigated urinary biomarkers of three PAHs, namely naphthalene (Nap), phenanthrene (Phe), and pyrene (Pyr) in 20 road-paving workers exposed to hot asphalt and in 6 road milling workers who were not using hot asphalt (reference group). Our analysis included baseline urine samples as well as postshift, bedtime, and morning samples collected over three consecutive days. We measured unmetabolized Nap (U-Nap) and Phe (U-Phe) as well as the monohydroxylated metabolites of Nap (OH-Nap), Phe (OH-Phe), and Pyr (OH-Pyr) in each urine sample. In baseline samples, no significant differences in biomarker levels were observed between pavers and millers, suggesting similar background exposures. In postshift, bedtime, and morning urine samples, the high pairwise correlations observed between levels of all biomarkers suggest common exposure sources. Among pavers, levels of all biomarkers were significantly elevated in postshift samples, indicating rapid uptake and elimination of PAHs following exposure to hot asphalt (biomarker levels were not elevated among millers). Results from linear mixed-effects models of levels of U-Nap, U-Phe, OH-Phe, and OH-Pyr across pavers showed significant effects of work assignments with roller operators having lower biomarker levels than the other workers. However, no work-related effect was observed for levels of OH-Nap, apparently due to the influence of cigarette smoking. Biological half-lives, estimated from regression coefficients for time among pavers, were 8 h for U-Phe, 10 h for U-Nap, 13 h for OH-Phe and OH-Pyr, and 26 h for OH-Nap. These results support the use of U-Nap, U-Phe, OH-Phe, and OH-Pyr, but probably not OH-Nap, as short-term biomarkers of exposure to PAHs emanating from hot asphalt.
PMCID: PMC2723215  PMID: 19602500
asphalt; biomarker; exposure; PAH; urine
11.  Comparing Urinary Biomarkers of Airborne and Dermal Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds in Asphalt-Exposed Workers 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(6):561-571.
When working with hot mix asphalt, road pavers are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through the inhalation of vapors and particulate matter (PM) and through dermal contact with PM and contaminated surfaces. Several PAHs with four to six rings are potent carcinogens which reside in these particulate emissions. Since urinary biomarkers of large PAHs are rarely detectable in asphalt workers, attention has focused upon urinary levels of the more volatile and abundant two-ring and three-ring PAHs as potential biomarkers of PAH exposure. Here, we compare levels of particulate polycyclic aromatic compounds (P-PACs, a group of aromatic hydrocarbons containing PAHs and heterocyclic compounds with four or more rings) in air and dermal patch samples from 20 road pavers to the corresponding urinary levels of naphthalene (U-Nap) (two rings), phenanthrene (U-Phe) (three rings), monohydroxylated metabolites of naphthalene (OH-Nap) and phenanthrene (OH-Phe), and 1-hydroxypyrene (OH-Pyr) (four rings), the most widely used biomarker of PAH exposure. For each worker, daily breathing-zone air (n = 55) and dermal patch samples (n = 56) were collected on three consecutive workdays along with postshift, bedtime, and morning urine samples (n = 149). Measured levels of P-PACs and the urinary analytes were used to statistically model exposure–biomarker relationships while controlling for urinary creatinine, smoking status, age, body mass index, and the timing of urine sampling. Levels of OH-Phe in urine collected postshift, at bedtime, and the following morning were all significantly associated with levels of P-PACs in air and dermal patch samples. For U-Nap, U-Phe, and OH-Pyr, both air and dermal patch measurements of P-PACs were significant predictors of postshift urine levels, and dermal patch measurements were significant predictors of bedtime urine levels (all three analytes) and morning urine levels (U-Nap and OH-Pyr only). Significant effects of creatinine concentration were observed for all analytes, and modest effects of smoking status and body mass index were observed for U-Phe and OH-Pyr, respectively. Levels of OH-Nap were not associated with P-PAC measurements in air or dermal patch samples but were significantly affected by smoking status, age, day of sample collection, and urinary creatinine. We conclude that U-Nap, U-Phe, OH-Phe, and OH-Pyr can be used as biomarkers of exposure to particulate asphalt emissions, with OH-Phe being the most promising candidate. Indications that levels of U-Nap, U-Phe, and OH-Pyr were significantly associated with dermal patch measurements well into the evening after a given work shift, combined with the small ratios of within-person variance components to between-person variance components at bedtime, suggest that bedtime measurements may be useful for investigating dermal PAH exposures.
PMCID: PMC2723216  PMID: 19602502
asphalt; biomarker; PAH; PAC; urine
12.  Predictors of Hearing Protection Use in Construction Workers 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(6):605-615.
Objectives: Although noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable, it remains highly prevalent among construction workers. Hearing protection devices (HPDs) are commonly relied upon for exposure reduction in construction, but their use is complicated by intermittent and highly variable noise, inadequate industry support for hearing conservation, and lax regulatory enforcement.
Methods: As part of an intervention study designed to promote HPD use in the construction industry, we enrolled a cohort of 268 construction workers from a variety of trades at eight sites and evaluated their use of HPDs at baseline. We measured HPD use with two instruments, a questionnaire survey and a validated combination of activity logs with simultaneous dosimetry measurements. With these measurements, we evaluated potential predictors of HPD use based on components of Pender's revised health promotion model (HPM) and safety climate factors.
Results: Observed full-shift equivalent noise levels were above recommended limits, with a mean of 89.8 ± 4.9 dBA, and workers spent an average of 32.4 ± 18.6% of time in each shift above 85 dBA. We observed a bimodal distribution of HPD use from the activity card/dosimetry measures, with nearly 80% of workers reporting either almost never or almost always using HPDs. Fair agreement (kappa = 0.38) was found between the survey and activity card/dosimetry HPD use measures. Logistic regression models identified site, trade, education level, years in construction, percent of shift in high noise, and five HPM components as important predictors of HPD use at the individual level. Site safety climate factors were also predictors at the group level.
Conclusions: Full-shift equivalent noise levels on the construction sites assessed were well above the level at which HPDs are required, but usage rates were quite low. Understanding and predicting HPD use differs by methods used to assess use (survey versus activity card/dosimetry). Site, trade, and the belief that wearing HPD is not time consuming were the only predictors of HPD use common to both measures on an individual level. At the group level, perceived support for site safety and HPD use proved to be predictive of HPD use.
PMCID: PMC2732185  PMID: 19531807
construction; hearing protectors; noise exposure
13.  Bayesian Modeling of Exposure and Airflow Using Two-Zone Models 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(4):409-424.
Mathematical modeling is being increasingly used as a means for assessing occupational exposures. However, predicting exposure in real settings is constrained by lack of quantitative knowledge of exposure determinants. Validation of models in occupational settings is, therefore, a challenge. Not only do the model parameters need to be known, the models also need to predict the output with some degree of accuracy. In this paper, a Bayesian statistical framework is used for estimating model parameters and exposure concentrations for a two-zone model. The model predicts concentrations in a zone near the source and far away from the source as functions of the toluene generation rate, air ventilation rate through the chamber, and the airflow between near and far fields. The framework combines prior or expert information on the physical model along with the observed data. The framework is applied to simulated data as well as data obtained from the experiments conducted in a chamber. Toluene vapors are generated from a source under different conditions of airflow direction, the presence of a mannequin, and simulated body heat of the mannequin. The Bayesian framework accounts for uncertainty in measurement as well as in the unknown rate of airflow between the near and far fields. The results show that estimates of the interzonal airflow are always close to the estimated equilibrium solutions, which implies that the method works efficiently. The predictions of near-field concentration for both the simulated and real data show nice concordance with the true values, indicating that the two-zone model assumptions agree with the reality to a large extent and the model is suitable for predicting the contaminant concentration. Comparison of the estimated model and its margin of error with the experimental data thus enables validation of the physical model assumptions. The approach illustrates how exposure models and information on model parameters together with the knowledge of uncertainty and variability in these quantities can be used to not only provide better estimates of model outputs but also model parameters.
PMCID: PMC2732913  PMID: 19403840
Bayesian statistics; exposure assessment; indoor air modeling; industrial hygiene; Markov chain Monte Carlo; two-zones modeling; worker's exposure
14.  Presence of Tungsten-Containing Fibers in Tungsten Refining and Manufacturing Processes 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(3):215-224.
In tungsten refining and manufacturing processes, a series of tungsten oxides are typically formed as intermediates in the production of tungsten powder. The present study was conducted to characterize airborne tungsten-containing fiber dimensions, elemental composition and concentrations in the US tungsten refining and manufacturing industry. During the course of normal employee work activities, seven personal breathing zone and 62 area air samples were collected and analyzed using National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) fiber sampling and counting methods to determine dimensions, composition and airborne concentrations of fibers. Mixed models were used to identify relationships between potential determinants and airborne fiber concentrations. Results from transmission electron microscopy analyses indicated that airborne fibers with length >0.5 μm, diameter >0.01 μm and aspect ratios ≥3:1 were present on 35 of the 69 air samples collected. Overall, the airborne fibers detected had a geometric mean length ≈3 μm and diameter ≈0.3 μm. Ninety-seven percent of the airborne fibers identified were in the thoracic fraction (i.e. aerodynamic diameter ≤ 10 μm). Energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry results indicated that airborne fibers prior to the carburization process consisted primarily of tungsten and oxygen, with other elements being detected in trace quantities. Based on NIOSH fiber counting ‘B’ rules (length > 5 μm, diameter < 3 μm and aspect ratio ≥ 5:1), airborne fiber concentrations ranged from below the limit of detection to 0.085 fibers cm−3, with calcining being associated with the highest airborne concentrations. The mixed model procedure indicated that process temperature had a marginally significant relationship to airborne fiber concentration. This finding was expected since heated processes such as calcining created the highest airborne fiber concentrations. The finding of airborne tungsten-containing fibers in this occupational setting needs to be confirmed in similar settings and demonstrates the need to obtain information on the durability and associated health effects of these fibers.
PMCID: PMC2721673  PMID: 19126624
airborne mineral fiber; electron microscopy; hard-metal manufacturing; metal oxide whisker; tungsten blue oxide
15.  Determinants of Exposure to Metalworking Fluid Aerosols: A Literature Review and Analysis of Reported Measurements 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(3):271-288.
An extensive literature review of published metalworking fluid (MWF) aerosol measurement data was conducted to identify the major determinants that may affect exposure to aerosol fractions (total or inhalable, thoracic and respirable) and mass median diameters (MMDs). The identification of determinants was conducted through published studies and analysis of published measurement levels. For the latter, weighted arithmetic means (WAMs) by number of measurements were calculated and compared using analysis of variance and t-tests. The literature review found that the major factors affecting aerosol exposure levels were, primarily, decade, type of industry, operation and fluid and engineering control measures. Our analysis of total aerosol levels found a significant decline in measured levels from an average of 5.36 mg m−3 prior to the 1970s and 2.52 mg m−3 in the 1970s to 1.21 mg m−3 in the 1980s, 0.50 mg m−3 in the 1990s and 0.55 mg m−3 in the 2000s. Significant declines from the 1990s to the 2000s also were found in thoracic fraction levels (0.48 versus 0.40 mg m−3), but not for the respirable fraction. The WAMs for the auto (1.47 mg m−3) and auto parts manufacturing industry (1.83 mg m−3) were significantly higher than that for small-job machine shops (0.68 mg m−3). In addition, a significant difference in the thoracic WAM was found between the automotive industry (0.46 mg m−3) and small-job machine shops (0.32 mg m−3). Operation type, in particular, grinding, was a significant factor affecting the total aerosol fraction [grinding operations (1.75 mg m−3) versus other machining (0.95 mg m−3)], but the levels associated with these operations were not statistically different for either the thoracic or the respirable fractions. Across all decades, the total aerosol fraction for straight oils (1.49 mg m−3) was higher than for other fluid types (soluble = 1.08 mg m−3, synthetic = 0.52 mg m−3 and semisynthetic = 0.50 mg m−3). Fluid type was also found to be partly associated with differences in the respirable fraction level. We found that the total aerosols were measured by a variety of sampling media, devices and analytical methods. This diversity of approaches makes interpretation of the study results difficult. In conclusion, both the literature review and the measurement data analyzed found that decade and type of industry, operation and fluid were important determinants of total aerosol exposure. Industry type and fluid type were associated with differences in exposure to the thoracic and respirable fraction levels, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2662095  PMID: 19329796
enclosure; grinding operation; machining operation; mass median diameters (MMDs); metalworking aerosol fraction; metalworking fluids (MWFs)
16.  Oxygen Depletion and Formation of Toxic Gases following Sea Transportation of Logs and Wood Chips 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(8):779-787.
Several recent accidents with fatal outcomes occurring during discharge of logs and wood chips from ships in Swedish ports indicate the need to better understand the atmospheric conditions in holds and connecting stairways. The principal aim of the present study was to assess the air levels of oxygen and toxic gases in confined spaces following sea transportation of logs and wood chips. The focus of the study was the conditions in the stairways, as this was the location of the reported accidents. Forty-one shipments of logs (pulpwood) and wood chips carried by 10 different ships were investigated before discharge in ports in northern Sweden. A full year was covered to accommodate variations due to seasonal temperature changes. The time from completion of loading to discharge was estimated to be 37–66 h (mean 46 h). Air samples were collected in the undisturbed air of altogether 76 stairways before the hatch covers were removed. The oxygen level was measured on-site by handheld direct-reading multi-gas monitors. On 16 of the shipments, air samples were additionally collected in Tedlar® bags for later analysis for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons by fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The mean oxygen level was 10% (n = 76) but in 17% of the samples the oxygen level was 0%. The oxygen depletion was less pronounced during the cold season. The mean CO2 and CO levels were 7.5% (n = 26) and 46 p.p.m. (n = 28), respectively. More than 90% of the hydrocarbons were explained by monoterpenes, mainly α-pinene (mean 41 p.p.m., (n = 26). In conclusion, the measurements show that transport of logs and wood chips in confined spaces may result in rapid and severe oxygen depletion and CO2 formation. Thus, apparently harmless cargoes may create potentially life-threatening conditions. The oxygen depletion and CO2 formation are seemingly primarily caused by microbiological activity, in contrast to the oxidative processes with higher CO formation that predominate in cargoes of wood pellets. Improved technical and organizational measures are considered necessary to prevent future accidents. Recommendations given regarding safe entry procedures and technical preventive methods may also apply to other oxygen-depleting products.
PMCID: PMC2775633  PMID: 19737777
confined spaces; hazard assessment; seamen
17.  Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Components in PM1 Dust from Biofuel Plants 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):749-757.
Fungi grown in pure cultures produce DNA- or RNA-containing particles smaller than spore size (<1.5 μm). High exposures to fungi and bacteria are observed at biofuel plants. Airborne cultivable bacteria are often described to be present in clusters or associated with larger particles with an aerodynamic diameter (dae) of 2–8 μm. In this study, we investigate whether airborne fungal components smaller than spore size are present in bioaerosols in working areas at biofuel plants. Furthermore, we measure the exposure to bacteria and fungal components in airborne particulate matter (PM) with a D50 of 1 μm (called PM1 dust). PM1 was sampled using Triplex cyclones at a working area at 14 Danish biofuel plants. Millipore cassettes were used to sample ‘total dust’. The PM1 particles (29 samples) were analysed for content of 11 different components and the total dust was analysed for cultivable fungi, N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAGase), and (1 → 3)-β-D-glucans. In the 29 PM1 samples, cultivable fungi were found in six samples and with a median concentration below detection level. Using microscopy, fungal spores were identified in 22 samples. The components NAGase and (1 → 3)-β-D-glucans, which are mainly associated with fungi, were present in all PM1 samples. Thermophilic actinomycetes were present in 23 of the 29 PM1 samples [average = 739 colony-forming units (CFU) m−3]. Cultivable and ‘total bacteria’ were found in average concentrations of, respectively, 249 CFU m−3 and 1.8 × 105 m−3. DNA- and RNA-containing particles of different lengths were counted by microscopy and revealed a high concentration of particles with a length of 0.5–1.5 μm and only few particles >1.5 μm. The number of cultivable fungi and β-glucan in the total dust correlated significantly with the number of DNA/RNA-containing particles with lengths of between 1.0 and 1.5 μm, with DNA/RNA-containing particles >1.5 μm, and with other fungal components in PM1 dust. Airborne β-glucan and NAGase were found in PM1 samples where no cultivable fungi were present, and β-glucan and NAGase were found in higher concentrations per fungal spore in PM1 dust than in total dust. This indicates that fungal particles smaller than fungal spore size are present in the air at the plants. Furthermore, many bacteria, including actinomycetes, were present in PM1 dust. Only 0.2% of the bacteria in PM1 dust were cultivable.
PMCID: PMC2758667  PMID: 19620231
actinomycetes; aerodynamic diameter of fungi; bacteria; bioaerosol; biofuel; exposure; inhalable dust; PM1 dust
18.  NIOSH Definition of Closed-System Drug-Transfer Devices 
PMCID: PMC2705625  PMID: 19474074
19.  A Novel Size-Selective Airborne Particle Size Fractionating Instrument for Health Risk Evaluation 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(3):225-237.
Health risks associated with the inhalation of airborne particles are known to be influenced by particle size. Studies have shown that certain nanoparticles, with diameters <100 nm, have increased toxicity relative to larger particles of the same substance. A reliable, size-resolving sampler able to collect a wide range of particle sizes, including particles with sizes in the nanometre range, would be beneficial in investigating health risks associated with the inhalation of airborne particles. A review of current aerosol samplers used for size-resolved collection of airborne particles highlighted a number of limitations. These could be overcome by combining an inertial deposition impactor with a diffusion collector in a single device. Verified theories of diffusion and inertial deposition suggested an optimal design and operational regime. The instrument was designed for analysing mass distribution functions. Calibration was carried out using a number of recognized techniques. The sampler was tested in the field by collecting size-resolved samples of lead containing aerosols present at workplaces in factories producing crystal glass. The mass deposited on each screen proved sufficient to be detected and measured by an appropriate analytical technique. Mass concentration distribution functions of lead were produced. The nanofraction of lead in air varied from 10 to 70% by weight of total lead.
PMCID: PMC2662094  PMID: 19279163
Brownian diffusion; humidity; inertial deposition; nanoparticles; size-resolved chemical composition; PM10

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