Saf Health Work.  2016 Mar;7(1):63-71. 10.1016/j.shaw.2015.10.004.

Exposure Characteristics of Construction Painters to Organic Solvents

Affiliations
  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Ulsan, Republic of Korea. cihjj@kosha.net

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Construction painters have not been studied well in terms of their hazards exposure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the exposure levels of total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) for painters in the construction industry.
METHODS
Activity-specific personal air samplings were carried out in three waterproofing activities [polyurethane (PU), asphalt, and cement mortar] and three painting activities (epoxy, oil based, and water based) by using organic-vapor-monitor passive-sampling devices. Gas chromatograph with flame ionization detector could be used for identifying and quantifying individual organic chemicals. The levels of TVOCs, by summing up 15 targeted substances, were expressed in exposure-index (EI) values.
RESULTS
As arithmetic means in the order of concentration levels, the EIs of TVOCs in waterproofing works were 10.77, 2.42, 1.78, 1.68, 0.47, 0.07, and none detected (ND) for indoor PU-primer task, outdoor PU-primer task, outdoor PU-resin task, indoor PU-resin task, asphalt-primer task, asphalt-adhesive task, and cement-mortar task, respectively. The highest EI for painting works was 5.61 for indoor epoxy-primer task, followed by indoor epoxy-resin task (2.03), outdoor oil-based-spray-paint task (1.65), outdoor water-based-paint task (0.66), and indoor oil-based-paint task (0.15). Assuming that the operations were carried out continuously for 8 hours without breaks and by using the arithmetic means of EIs for each of the 12 tasks in this study, 58.3% (7 out of 12) exceeded the exposure limit of 100% (EI > 1.0), while 8.3% (1 out of 12) was in 50-100% of exposure limit (0.5 > EI > 1.0), and 4 tasks out of 12 were located in less than 50% of the limit range (EI < 0.5).
CONCLUSION
From this study, we recognized that construction painters are exposed to various solvents, including carcinogens and reproductive toxins, and the levels of TVOC concentration in many of the painting tasks exceeded the exposure limits. Construction workers need to be protected from chemical agents during their painting works by using personal protective devices and/or work practice measures. Additional studies should focus on the exposure assessment of other hazards for construction workers, in order to identify high-risk tasks and to improve hazardous work environments.

Keyword

construction painter; solvent exposure; total volatile organic compounds
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