Skin Exposure to Aliphatic Polyisocyanates in the Auto Body Repair and Refinishing Industry: III. A Personal Exposure Algorithm

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Abstract

Objectives

Isocyanate skin exposure may play an important role in sensitization and the development of isocyanate asthma, but such exposures are frequently intermittent and difficult to assess. Exposure metrics are needed to better estimate isocyanate skin exposures. The goal of this study was to develop a semiquantitative algorithm to estimate personal skin exposures in auto body shop workers using task-based skin exposure data and daily work diaries. The relationship between skin and respiratory exposure metrics was also evaluated.

Methods

The development and results of respiratory exposure metrics were previously reported. Using the task-based data obtained with a colorimetric skin exposure indicator and a daily work diary, we developed a skin exposure algorithm to estimate a skin exposure index (SEI) for each worker. This algorithm considered the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) used, the percentage of skin area covered by PPE and skin exposures without and underneath the PPE. The SEI was summed across the day (daily SEI) and survey week (weekly average SEI) for each worker, compared among the job title categories and also compared with the respiratory exposure metrics.

Results

A total of 893 person-days was calculated for 232 workers (49 painters, 118 technicians and 65 office workers) from 33 auto body shops. The median (10th–90th percentile, maximum) daily SEI was 0 (0–0, 1.0), 0 (0–1.9, 4.8) and 1.6 (0–3.5, 6.1) and weekly average SEI was 0 (0–0.0, 0.7), 0.3 (0–1.6, 4.2) and 1.9 (0.4–3.0, 3.6) for office workers, technicians and painters, respectively, which were significantly different (P < 0.0001). The median (10th–90th percentile, maximum) daily SEI was 0 (0–2.4, 6.1) and weekly average SEI was 0.2 (0–2.3, 4.2) for all workers. A relatively weak positive Spearman correlation was found between daily SEI and time-weighted average (TWA) respiratory exposure metrics (μg NCO m−3) (r=0.380, n=893, P < 0.0001) and between weekly SEI and TWA respiratory exposure metrics (r=0.482, n=232, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions

The skin exposure algorithm developed in this study provides task-based personal daily and weekly average skin exposure indices that are adjusted for the use of PPE. These skin exposure indices can be used to assess isocyanate exposure–response relationships.

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