Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25(3):227-232    pdf


Ozone-induced respiratory illness during the repair of a portland cement kiln

by Sanderson WT, Almaguer D, Kirk LH III

Objectives Workers at a portland cement plant had experienced acute respiratory and eye irritation when performing maintenance inside a kiln. These episodes were associated with a bleach-like odor, which was only reported during maintenance operations. An industrial hygiene investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the illness.

Methods While workers replaced refractory brick inside the kiln, air samples were collected for chlorine, sulfur dioxide, inorganic acid, ozone, and dust. After the rebricking was completed and all the workers had exited the kiln, its electrostatic precipitator was reduced to half power and the induced-draft (ID) fan was turned off to recreate conditions present during illness episodes.

Results Chlorine, inorganic acid, and ozone were not detected, and only trace concentrations of sulfur dioxide were detected while workers were inside the kiln. However, when conditions present during previous episodes were recreated, the bleach-like odor was soon evident. Chlorine was not detected, but 0.09 to 0.11 ppm of ozone was measured at the discharge end of the kiln, and 4.5 ppm was measured at the inlet end. Within a half hour after the electrostatic precipitator was turned off and the ID fan was turned on, the ozone concentrations decreased to background levels of 0.02-0.03 ppm.

Conclusion Somewhat lower ozone exposures may have occurred during previous kiln maintenance operations due to more open access portals, but previous episodes of eye and respiratory irritation were probably caused when ozone, generated by the electrostatic precipitator, back-drafted into the kiln after the ID fan was turned off.

The following article refers to this text: 2002;28(2):117-123