OSHA Industrial Hygiene
Welding fumes are a common occupational exposure. Several different welding fumes can cause similar adverse health effects. Personal sampling of a welding operation at a manufacturing facility produced the following 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) results for individual metal fumes.
Metal Fume Result OSHA PEL ACGIH TLV
Antimony 0.05 mg/m³ 0.5 mg/m³ 0.5 mg/m³
Beryllium 0.00001 mg/m³ 0.0002 mg/m³ 0.00005 mg/m³ (I)
Cadmium 0.025 mg/m³ 0.005 mg/m³ 0.01 mg/m³
Chromium 0.02 mg/m³ 1 mg/m³ 0.5 mg/m³
Copper 0.03 mg/m³ 0.1 mg/m³ 0.2 mg/m³
Iron Oxide 0.5 mg/m³ 10 mg/m³ 5 mg/m³ (R)
Magnesium Oxide 0.02 mg/m³ 15 mg/m³ 10 mg/m³
Molybdenum 0.003 mg/m³ 15 mg/m³ 10 mg/m³ (I)
Nickel 0.25 mg/m³ 1 mg/m³ 1.5 mg/m³ (I)
Zinc Oxide 0.3 mg/m³ 5 mg/m³ 2 mg/m³ (R)
(R) Respirable fraction (I) Inhalable fraction
Briefly summarize the primary health effects associated with overexposure to each type of metal fume, including both acute and chronic health effects. Explain what analytical methods you would use for evaluating health hazards in the workplace.
Identify the types of metal fumes that would produce similar health effects on an exposed worker. Assume that each listed metal can cause respiratory irritation. Use the equation in 1910.1000(d)(2)(i) to calculate the equivalent exposure (in relation to OSHA PELS) for the metal fumes with similar health effects based on the “Result” column in the table above. Discuss whether you believe any of the individual metal fume exposures or the combined exposure exceeds an OSHA PEL or an ACGIH TLV.
Your homework assignment should be a minimum of two pages in length.
Primary Health Effects Associated With Overexposure the Different Types of Metal Fume
The acute effects from exposure to antimony mainly affect the skin, eyes and causing gastrointestinal effects (EPA, 2016). The skin is affected by the antimony spots, primarily a rash comprising pustules around the sweat and sebaceous glands. On the eyes, the exposure leads to ocular conjunctivitis. The chronic effects of being exposed to antimony include respiratory effects such as antimony pneumoconiosis, alterations to the pulmonary functions, chronic bronchitis, chronic emphysema, inactive tuberculosis, pleural adhesions, and irritation (EPA, 2016). In addition, one is also prone to cardiovascular effects and gastrointestinal disorders.
Exposure to beryllium poses the risk of developing beryllium sensitization or chronic beryllium disease that could cause disability or be a fatal respiratory ailment (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety, 2021. These diseases could injure the lungs, skin, eyes, liver, kidneys, heart, nervous system, and lymphatic system, depending on the level of exposure and the contact. Beryllium is also an identified cancer-causing substance, specifically lung cancer.
The acute effects of excessive cadmium exposure include food poisoning, bronchitis, and chemical pneumonitis, and pulmonary edema that happens through inhalation only (ATSDR, 2016). The chronic effects from exposure to cadmium include impairment in pulmonary functions with obstructive changes, renal dysfunction with tubular and glomerular damage resulting in proteinuria, and bone changes. The acute health effects of chromium exposure include irritation or damage to the nose, throat, and lungs when air is breathed at a high level.s irritation or damage to the eyes and skin is a risk when chromium gets in contact with the organs in high concentrations. The chronic effect of chromium is lung cancer.
The acute effects of exposure to copper include irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat in conjunction with nausea and “Metal Fume Fever” (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety, 2021). The inhalation of copper will lead to irritation to the nasal passages and the throat via a sweetish, metallic taste and excessive salivation. Its ingestion could lead to metallic tastes and gastrointestinal irritation. The chronic effects of copper exposure consist of eye and skin irritations. The skin could suffer a green discoloration that could also be seen in hair, nails, and teeth; there have also been reports of allergic contact dermatitis.
The acute health effects of exposure to iron oxide are primarily metal fume fever with symptoms such as the metallic taste, fever and chills, aches, chest tightness, and cough. Its chronic health effects include eye discoloration leading to iron staining and pneumoconiosis with cough, shortness of breathing, and changes in the chest x-ray. The acute health effects of being exposed to magnesium oxide include irritation to the eyes and nose and metal fume fever. Currently, there are no identified chronic effects or long-term effects related to magnesium oxide.
The acute health effects of Molybdenum include irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, and throat that could lead to coughing and wheezing. It could also cause headaches, fatigue, appetite loss, and pain in the muscles and joints. Long-term exposure could cause Uric Acid levels in the body that could cause gout, cause damage to the liver and kidneys, and low blood count or anemia. The acute effects of exposure to nickel include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety, 2021). Its chronic effects are dermatitis and lung problems. Exposure to zinc oxide leads to acute health effects such as metal fume fever. There are no long-term effects identified to be caused by zinc oxide.
Analytical Methods To Evaluate Health Hazards in the Workplace.
Spectroscopic techniques are now a fundamental, powerful and versatile element in evaluating health hazards in workplaces (Wanget al., 2000). These techniques will be deployed to determine hazard exposure levels such as hazardous chemicals, biomarkers, and particulate matters of exposure. The primary spectroscopic techniques to be used are mass spectrometry (MS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X‐ray microanalysis (XM), atomic spectrometry (AS), ultraviolet/visible (UV/VIS) photometry, fluorescent spectrometry (FS), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy (RS) (Wang et al., 2000). These methods have demonstrated effectiveness in achieving industrial hygiene monitoring.
Substance (mg/m3) (mg/m3) (mg/m3)
Antimony 0.05 0.5 0.5
Beryllium 0.00001 0.0002 0.00005
Cadmium 0.025 0.005 0.01
Chromium 0.02 1 0.5
Copper 0.03 0.1 0.2
Iron Oxide 0.5 10 5
Magnesium Oxide 0.02 0.02 10
Molybdenum 0.003 15 10
Nickel 0.25 1 1.5
Zinc Oxide 0.3 5 2
Calculation of the Equivalent exposure: Em=(C1÷L1+C2÷L2)+. . .(Cn÷Ln)
Em is the equivalent exposure for the mixture, C is the concentration of a particular contaminant. L is the exposure limit for that substance specified in subpart Z of 29 CFR part 1910.
Em = 6.8302
This exposure is more significant than one, indicating that the exposure combination of the elements has surpassed the acceptable levels, which is supposed to be below one as per 1910.1000(d)(2)(i)
Wang, J., Siegel, P. D., Lewis, D. M., Vo, E., Wallace, W. E., Ashley, K., & Stettler, L. E. (2000). Spectroscopic Techniques in Industrial Hygiene. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. doi:10.1002/9780470027318.a1321
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. (2021). Welding – Fumes and gases. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/welding/fumes.html
EPAS. (2016). Antimony Compounds. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/antimony-compounds.pdf
ATSDR. (2021, February 9). What diseases are associated with chronic exposure to cadmium? Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/cadmium/Chronic-Effects.html