An Evaluation of Analytical Methods, Air Sampling Techniques, and Airborne Occupational Exposure of Metalworking Fluids
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This article summarizes an assessment of air sampling and analytical methods for both oil and water-based metalworking fluids (MWFs). Three hundred and seventy-four long-term area and personal airborne samples were collected at four plants using total (closed-face) aerosol samplers and thoracic samplers. A direct-reading device (DustTrak) was also used. The processes sampled include steel tube making, automotive component manufacturing, and small part manufacturing in a machine shop. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Method PS42-97 of analysis was evaluated in the laboratory. This evaluation included sample recovery, determination of detection limits, and stability of samples during storage. Results of the laboratory validation showed (a) the sample recovery to be about 87%, (b) the detection limit to be 35 microg, and (c) sample stability during storage at room temperature to decline rapidly within a few days. To minimize sample loss, the samples should be stored in a freezer and analyzed within a week. The ASTM method should be the preferred method for assessing metalworking fluids (MWFs). The ratio of thoracic aerosol to total aerosol ranged from 0.6 to 0.7. A similar relationship was found between the thoracic extractable aerosol and total extractable aerosol. The DustTrak, with 10-microm sampling head, was useful in pinpointing the areas of potential exposure. MWF exposure at the four plants ranged from 0.04 to 3.84 mg/m3 with the geometric mean ranging between 0.22 to 0.59 mg/m3. Based on this data and the assumption of log normality, MWF exposures are expected to exceed the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended exposure limit of 0.5 mg/m3 as total mass and 0.4 mg/m3 as thoracic mass about 38% of the time. In addition to controlling airborne MWF exposure, full protection of workers would require the institution of programs for fluid management and dermal exposure prevention.
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