Deakin University

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Cleanup worker exposures to hazardous chemicals at a former nuclear weapons plant : piloting of an exposure surveillance system

journal contribution
posted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by Tony LaMontagneTony LaMontagne, D Van, J Martyny, A Ruttenber
Cleanup of former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons production facilities involves potential exposures to various hazardous chemicals. We have collaboratively developed and piloted an exposure database and surveillance system for cleanup worker hazardous chemical exposure data with a cleanup contractor at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS). A unique system feature is the incorporation of a 34-category work task-coding scheme. This report presents an overview of the data captured by this system during development and piloting from March 1995 through August 1998. All air samples collected were entered into the system. Of the 859 breathing zone samples collected, 103 unique employees and 39 unique compounds were represented. Breathing zone exposure levels were usually low (86% of breathing zone samples were below analytical limits of detection). The use of respirators and other exposure controls was high (87 and 88%, respectively). Occasional high-level excursions did occur. Detailed quantitative summaries are provided for the six most monitored compounds: asbestos, beryllium, carbon tetrachloride, chromium, lead, and methylene chloride. Task and job title data were successfully collected for most samples, and showed specific cleanup activities by pipe fitters to be the most commonly represented in the database. Importantly, these results demonstrate the feasibility of the implementation of integrated exposure database and surveillance systems by practicing industrial hygienists employed in industry as well as the preventive potential and research uses of such systems. This exposure database and surveillance system--the central features of which are applicable in any industrial work setting--has enabled one of the first systematic quantitative characterizations of DOE cleanup worker exposures to hazardous chemicals.



Applied occupational and environmental hygiene






London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2001, Taylor & Francis




Taylor & Francis