Isocyanate Exposure Assessment Combining Industrial Hygiene Methods with Biomonitoring for End Users of Orthopedic Casting Products

Previous studies have suggested a potential risk to healthcare workers applying isocyanate-containing casts, but the authors reached their conclusions based on immunological or clinical pulmonology test results alone. We designed a study to assess potential exposure to methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) among medical personnel applying orthopedic casts using two different application methods. Air, dermal, surface, and glove permeation sampling methods were combined with urinary biomonitoring to assess the overall risk of occupational asthma to workers handling these materials. No MDI was detected in any of the personal and area air samples obtained. No glove permeation of MDI was detected. A small proportion of surface (3/45) and dermal wipe (1/60) samples were positive for MDI, but were all from inexperienced technicians. Urinary metabolites of MDI [methylenedianiline (MDA)] were detected in three of six study participants prior to both a ‘dry' and ‘wet' application method, five of six after the dry method, and three of six after the wet method. All MDA results were below levels noted in worker or general populations. Our conclusion is that the risk of MDI exposure is small, but unquantifiable. Because there is some potential risk of dermal exposure, medical personnel are instructed to wear a minimum of 5-mil-thick (5 mil = 0.005 inches) nitrile gloves and avoid contact to unprotected skin. This could include gauntlets, long sleeves, and/or a laboratory coat.

Source: Ronald L. Pearson, Perry W. Logan, Anita M. Kore, Constance M. Strom, Lisa M. Brosseau, and Richard L. Kingston. Ann Occup Hyg, 2013, vol. 57, no 6, p. 758-765. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/annhyg/mes110

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