Investigating a persistent odor at an aircraft seat manufacturer
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Investigating a persistent odor at an aircraft seat manufacturer

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Details:

  • Alternative Title:
    J Occup Environ Hyg
  • Description:
    An aircraft seat manufacturing company requested a NIOSH health hazard evaluation to help identify a strong odor that had persisted throughout the facility for over a year. Employees reported experiencing health effects thought to be related to the odor. We collected and analyzed area air samples for volatile organic compounds, endotoxin, bacterial and fungal metagenome, and metalworking fluid aerosol. Bulk metalworking fluid samples were analyzed for endotoxin, bacterial and fungal metagenome, and viable bacteria and fungus. We also evaluated the building ventilation systems and water diversion systems. Employees underwent confidential medical interviews about work practices, medical history, and health concerns. Based on our analyses, the odor was likely 2-methoxy-3,5-dimethylpyrazine. This pyrazine was found in air samples across the facility and originated from bacteria in the metalworking fluid. We did not identify bacteria known to produce the compound but bacteria from the same Proteobacteria order were found as well as bacteria from orders known to produce other pyrazines. Chemical and biological contaminants and odors could have contributed to health symptoms reported by employees, but it is likely that the symptoms were caused by several factors. We provided several recommendations to eliminate the odor including washing and disinfecting the metalworking machines and metalworking fluid recycling equipment, discarding all used metalworking fluid, instituting a metalworking fluid maintenance program at the site, and physically isolating the metalworking department from other departments.
  • Source:
    J Occup Environ Hyg. 13(10):D159-D165.
  • Pubmed ID:
    27494786
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5511731
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