Special Surveys Services
From Industrial Hygiene
Welding Fumes Testing/Sampling. Welding fume can harm the health of employees, causing both short term (acute) effects and long term (chronic) effects. Workers can be affected even if employers comply with the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PELs) for exposure, as OSHA’s final standards do not always keep up with current science. Acute effects of exposure to welding fume include Metal Fume Fever. Symptoms are like the flu and usually last 24 hours. Zinc, the coating used in galvanized metal, is often associated with Metal Fume Fever.
Chronic effects can be severe and may include cancers and permanent disability. Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Beryllium (Be), Mercury (Hg), fluorides from fluxes, Iron (Fe), Nickel (Ni), Copper (Cu), Aluminum (Al), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are the most likely offenders. Also, hexavalent chromium found in stainless steel is now specifically regulated by OSHA as cancer-causing substance (general industry 29 CFR 1910.1026 and construction 29 CFR 1926.1126). We can test/sample for individual exposure levels and design or recommend appropriate controls based on the situation.
- Wood Dust Testing/Sampling. Many types of wood are treated with a variety of chemicals, some very toxic, such as formaldehyde and arsenic. Also, woods can carry microorganisms such as mold to which many people are allergic. Some people simply have allergic reactions to certain varieties of wood. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers dust from hardwoods and softwoods as carcinogenic and recommends a limit of 1mg/M3. This is based on data that shows wood dust exposure has been linked to nasal and sinus cavity cancer, lung cancers and Hodgkin’s disease.
- Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic or subatomic scale. It was previously thought that microscopic particles could be inhaled and exhaled without damage to the lungs. Recent information suggests that this is not true. Due to the phenomenon called Brownian Motion, we know that inhaled nanoparticles are buffeted by atoms that push them onto lung surfaces where they stay. We can use nanotechnology to study the effects of extremely small amounts of chemicals and particles on cells, molecules, and individual genes. We can determine if tiny particles are causing a negative impact on health.
- Hospital Air Quality. OSHA has established guidelines for the protection of operating room personnel and NIOSH offers recommended limits for the most common anesthetic gases, nitrous oxide (N2O) and the halogenated gases (Enflurane, Halothane, Isoflurane, Desflurane and Sevoflurane). We can monitor for these anesthetics by using diffusion badges clipped to operating room occupants while on duty. We can also take direct reading measurements with an infrared spectrophotometer to detect leaks in the gas supply system or the waste gas scavenging system. The recommended exposure levels for each of the anesthetic gases by NIOSH are as follows:
- Nitrous Oxide: 25 ppm during administration
- Enflurane: 0.5 ppm, 8-hour TWA
- Halothane: 0.5 ppm, 8-hour TWA
- Sevoflurane: 0.5 ppm, 8-hour TWA
- Desflurane: 0.5 ppm, 8-hour TWA
- Isoflurane: 0.5 ppm, 8-hour TWA
- (Note: 0.5 ppm for halogenated gases when used with Nitrous Oxide. If used separately, 2 ppm.)
- Mysterious Causes. Sometimes employees complain about feeling ill during office hours, or during specific times of the workday. Many workplaces can unknowingly subject employees to physical, chemical or biological irritants that can harm their health. For example, an office renovation can generate harmful dust, paint solvents, the release of asbestos fibers or mold spores. A problematic ventilation system may cause carbon dioxide to build up in office air. We investigate the situation to determine the cause of the problem and offer solutions to remedy them.