Determinants of Isocyanate Exposures in Auto Body Repair and Refinishing Shops

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As part of the Survey of Painters and Repairers of Auto bodies by Yale (SPRAY), the determinants of isocyanate exposure in auto body repair shops were evaluated. Measurements (n=380) of hexamethylene diisocyanate-based monomer and polyisocyanate and isophorone diisocyanate-based polyisocyanate were collected from 33 auto body shops. The median total reactive isocyanate concentrations expressed as mass concentration of the NCO functional group were: 206 µg NCO/m3 for spray operations; 0.93 µg NCO/m3 for samples collected in the vicinity of spray operations done on the shop floor (near spray); 0.05 µg NCO/m3 for office or other shop areas adjacent to spray areas (workplace background); 0.17 µg NCO/m3 for paint mixing and gun cleaning operations (mixing); 0.27 µg NCO/m3 for sanding operations. Exposure determinants for the sample NCO mass load were identified using linear regression, tobit regression and logistic regression models. For spray samples in a spray booth the significant determinants were the number of milliliters of NCO applied, the gallons of clear coat used by the shop each month and the type of spray booth used (custom built crossdraft, prefabricated crossdraft or downdraft/semi-downdraft). For near spray (bystander) samples, outdoor temperature >65°F (18°C) and shop size >5000 feet2 (465 m2) were significant determinants of exposure levels. For workplace background samples the shop annual income was the most important determinant. For sanding samples, the shop annual income and outdoor temperature >65°F (18°C) were the most significant determinants. Identification of these key exposure determinants will be useful in targeting exposure evaluation and control efforts to reduce isocyanate exposures.

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