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Evaluation of exposure to metals and flame retardants at an electronics recycling company
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  • Description:
    "The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from an electronics recycling company. The managers were concerned about exposure to metals and flame retardants, as well as ergonomic stressors and hazardous levels of noise. We observed work operations, practices, and conditions; collected air, surface wipe, hand wipe, blood, and urine samples for metals and flame retardants; took sound level measurements; and assessed possible ergonomic hazards. Employees at this electronics recycling company were exposed to metals including lead and cadmium; however, no OELs were exceeded. Although blood and air sampling results indicated exposures were well controlled, our hand wipe sampling results showed a potential for take-home contamination of lead and other metals. Surface wipe, hand wipe, and air samples indicated that employees were exposed to flame retardants in the workplace. Biological samples showed that exposures had not led to a noticeable uptake over a shift. Sound level meter measurements showed peak impulsive sound levels exceeding 120 decibels, but below the OSHA PEL and NIOSH REL of 140 decibels. Additional findings included workstations set at fixed heights, anti-fatigue mats were available but not used by most employees, poor lighting at workstations, incorrect use of ear plugs and N95 respirators, and dry sweeping. We recommended the employer include all processing employees in a lead exposure prevention program, provide employees with a lead-removing product to wash their hands, re-train employees on the proper wear and use of respirators and ear plugs, replace worn out anti-fatigue mats, provide easily adjustable workstations, and prohibit dry sweeping to clean work areas." - NIOSHTIC-2

    NIOSH no. 20055191

    Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2019]. Evaluation of exposure to metals and flame retardants at an electronics recycling company. By Grimes GR, Beaucham CC, Grant MP, Ramsey JG. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control

    and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Health Hazard Evaluation Report 2016-0257-3333, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe/reports/pdfs/2016- 0257-3333.pdf.

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