Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2002;28(6):429-438    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.695

Trends in inhalation exposure to hydrocarbons among commercial painters in The Netherlands

by Burstyn I, Kromhout H

Objectives An attempt was made to develop a database for measurements of exposure to solvents that could be used as a tool in the historical exposure assessment of commercial painters participating in a health surveillance program.

Methods The measurement data on personal exposure from six studies still available for Dutch commercial painters were collected into a database. The database was analyzed to identify time trends for the inhalation exposure levels of hydrocarbons and the production conditions that influence exposure levels among commercial painters in The Netherlands.

Results Altogether 304 measurements of solvent exposure were collected between 1980 and 1999, providing data for 137 workers. Toluene was selected as a marker for solvent exposure, since hydrocarbon exposures appeared to be strongly correlated. Exposure to toluene measured during the application of solvent-based paints has declined by 12% per year. The use of solvent-based paints, painting in small rooms, house (versus shipyard) painting, and spray-painting were associated with increased exposures. Water-based paint was also associated with increased exposure to toluene, relative to tasks in which no paint was used. The exposure model for toluene explained 86% of the between-worker variance. In a subset of the data, we observed that a single cell model did not adequately describe total solvent exposure among painters, because of the stronger-than-expected positive effect of source strength and the lack of the protective effect of general ventilation.

Conclusions An exposure model was developed that can be used to predict the intensity of inhalation exposure to aromatic solvents among commercial painters in The Netherlands.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2001;27(5):335-342