Evaluation of exposures and respiratory health at a coffee roasting and packaging facility and two off-site retail cafés
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Evaluation of exposures and respiratory health at a coffee roasting and packaging facility and two off-site retail cafés

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      "In March 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from the owner of a coffee roasting and packaging facility and off-site retail cafés with 15 employees regarding concerns about exposures to and health effects from diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione during coffee roasting, coffee grinding, and café tasks. In May 2017, we conducted the medical survey, industrial hygiene survey, and ventilation assessment at the roastery production space and two off-site retail cafés. The industrial hygiene survey consisted of collecting personal breathing zone and area air samples for alpha-diketones (i.e., diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and 2,3-hexanedione). We used continuous monitoring instruments to measure total volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity in specific areas and during tasks. We also conducted a ventilation assessment in both cafés and the roastery production space location. The medical survey consisted of a health questionnaire and breathing tests. An interim letter reporting industrial hygiene results and recommendations was sent to the company following our visit. Most time-weighted average air concentrations of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione were below the NIOSH recommended exposure limits. Five of the 13 full-shift samples collected during the survey exceeded the NIOSH recommended exposure limit for diacetyl of 5 parts per billion, with a maximum concentration of 13.9 parts per billion. We identified jobs where some work tasks resulted in relatively higher air concentrations of diacetyl than other tasks. Specifically, grinding roasted coffee beans was associated with higher diacetyl levels. Overall, the most commonly reported symptoms were associated with mucous membranes, specifically the nose, eyes, and sinuses. Most employees reported that they did not feel that their symptoms were caused or aggravated by work-related exposures. Wheezing or whistling in the chest was the most commonly reported lower respiratory symptom, 33% of employees reported experiencing this symptom in the last 12 months. All administered spirometry tests (n=9) were normal. One of nine participants had high exhaled nitric oxide, a marker of allergic airways inflammation, and three of nine participants had airway obstructions. We recommend moving the cold brew grinders in the basement of the downtown café closer to an outside wall and installing an exhaust fan or ducted local exhaust ventilation system to exhaust contaminants generated during grinding directly outdoors. We also recommend introducing prescribed amounts of fresh, outdoor air to the café spaces to help further reduce airborne concentrations. Further, we recommended operating the ventilation system in the roastery production space continuously during roastery operating hours, training employees about workplace hazards, and establishing a medical monitoring program to identify any employees who may be developing work-related lung disease (e.g., asthma, obliterative bronchiolitis) and to help management prioritize interventions to prevent occupational lung disease." - NIOSHTIC-2 NIOSHTIC no. 20055134 Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2019]. Health hazard evaluation report: Evaluation of exposure and respiratory health at a coffee roasting and packaging facility and two off-site retail cafés. By McClelland T, Boylstein RJ, Martin SB, Beaty M. 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. 2016-0109-3343.
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