Evaluation of exposures and respiratory health at a coffee processing facility
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Evaluation of exposures and respiratory health at a coffee processing facility

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      In August 2015, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a management request for a health hazard evaluation at a coffee processing facility. The request expressed concern about exposure to diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) during coffee roasting, grinding, and flavoring. In February 2016, we conducted a ventilation assessment, an industrial hygiene survey, and a medical survey. The industrial hygiene survey consisted of the collection of air samples and bulk samples of coffee and flavorings for the analysis of diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and 2,3-hexanedione. Continuous monitoring instruments were used to monitor total volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity in specific areas and during tasks. The medical survey consisted of breathing tests and a questionnaire covering medical and work histories. Overall, average air levels of diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and 2,3-hexanedione were not elevated. We identified specific work tasks that resulted in higher air concentrations of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione than other tasks. Specifically, packaging and flavoring tasks were associated with the highest levels of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione. Some employees reported respiratory symptoms or diagnoses and/or had abnormal lung function tests. We recommend using engineering and administrative controls as a precautionary approach to limit employees’ exposures and establishing a medical monitoring program.

      Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2017]. Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of exposures and respiratory health at a coffee processing facility. By Fechter-Leggett ED, Boylstein RJ, Stanton ML. Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH HHE Report No. 2015-0147-3266.

      NIOSHTIC no. 20049067

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