Occupational Mercury Exposure at a Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Facility - Wisconsin, 2017

On May 9, 2017, Public Health Madison & Dane County contacted the Wisconsin Division of Public Health for assistance with investigation of mercury exposure among workers at a fluorescent lamp recycling facility. Public Health Madison & Dane County had been contacted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as part of an investigation of potential environmental contamination at the facility. Fluorescent lamps are composed of a phosphor-coated glass tube containing mercury vapor and argon. During the recycling process, lamps are crushed, releasing mercury vapor and mercury-containing dusts. State and county health officials, in collaboration with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, conducted an investigation of mercury exposure of workers and an environmental assessment of the facility, surrounding areas, and worker vehicles. All five workers who were tested had urine mercury levels exceeding the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) biologic exposure index of 20.0 μg/g creatinine, and two had tremor on physical exam. Workers wore inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Mercury levels in indoor air varied within the building, with a maximum of 207.4 μg/m3 at floor level on the crushing platform, approximately eightfold higher than the ACGIH threshold limit value of 25 μg/m3 (1). Mercury also was found in workers' vehicles, indicating risk for take-home exposure. Workers at risk for mercury exposure need to have access to and consistently wear National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respiratory protection for mercury vapor, nitrile or other suitable gloves to prevent contact exposure, and disposable suits with booties and change shoes before leaving the worksite to prevent take-home exposures.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6727a3.htm?s_cid=mm6727a3_e

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