Pan American Health Organization, Bogota, Colombia, South America
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Pan American Health Organization, Bogota, Colombia, South America

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    In response to a request from the Pan American Health Organization, an investigation was begun into possible hazardous working conditions at the ECOPETROL Oil Refinery in Barrancabermeja (SIC- 2911), Colombia. The study was to evaluate employee exposure to benzene (71432), toluene (108883), xylene (1330207), ethyl-benzene (100414), and cyclohexane (110827) in various areas of the refinery. ECOPETROL was an integrated oil refinery with a refining capacity of 200,000 barrels per day. In the aromatics facility benzene, toluene, xylene, ethyl-benzene, and cyclohexane were refined from naphtha. A total of 72 personal breathing zone and 45 area samples were collected during the observation period. Personal exposures and area measurements for toluene, xylene, ethyl-benzene, and cyclohexane were below the minimum detectable concentrations. Full shift exposures to benzene for maintenance personnel, laborers, and operators working in the aromatics unit ranged from less than the detectable limit to 32 parts per million (ppm). For maintenance personnel the median full shift exposure was 6ppm. Median exposure for the operators was 0.2ppm. The median short duration exposure to benzene for maintenance personnel was 5.2ppm. The author concludes that a hazard existed for some workers from exposure to benzene. The author recommends that benzene exposure be controlled through the use of personal protective equipment and environmental monitoring programs.

    NIOSHTIC no. 00222307

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