NIOSH Measures Exposures to Chemicals at a Polymer Additive Manufacturing Facility
A NIOSH health hazard evaluation (HHE) report released in October details the agency’s assessment of employees’ exposure to chemicals at a polymer additive manufacturing facility. Employees at the facility were concerned about developing chronic health problems, such as kidney disease and cancer, from occupational exposure to chemicals. During NIOSH’s evaluation, investigators sampled for toluene, benzene, methylene chloride, hydrogen sulfide, aniline, and dusts containing N-oxydiethylenethiocarbamyl-N’-oxydiethylenesulfenamide (OTOS).
NIOSH found that employees who bagged OTOS product and removed a clog in the OTOS bagging operation were overexposed to the chemical when compared to the manufacturer’s occupational exposure limit (OEL). All other airborne exposure levels measured were below OELs. Though some employees reported eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation consistent with exposures to irritant workplace chemicals, the NIOSH report notes that these symptoms can have many causes and are common in the general public. The agency also found that chronic kidney disease in two former employees was unlikely to be related to work exposures.
NIOSH made several recommendations to improve employees’ health and safety at the facility, including:
- improve local exhaust ventilation for bagging OTOS and the primary polymer additive product
- train employees on the use and care of gloves and other personal protective equipment
- improve communication between managers and employees regarding health and safety concerns