Chemical Exposure among Professional Ski Waxers— Characterization of Individual Work Operations

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Abstract

Background:

Preparation of skis prior to skiing competitions involves several individual work operations and the use of a wide variety of chemically based ski waxing products to improve the performance of the skis, including products used after skiing for wax removal and ski sole cleaning. Modern ski waxes consist mainly of petroleum-derived straight-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons, perfluoro-n-alkanes or polyfluorinated n-alkanes. The wax cleaning products contain solvents such as neat aliphatic hydrocarbons (aliphates) or a mixture with limonene. Different ski waxing work operations can result in contaminated workroom atmospheres.

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to assess the chemical exposures related to the individual ski waxing work operations by investigating the specific work operations in controlled model experiments.

Methods:

Four main work operations with potential exposures were identified: (i) application of glider waxes, (ii) scraping and brushing of applied glider waxes, (iii) application of base/grip waxes, and (iv) ski sole cleaning. Aerosol particle masses were sampled using conical samplers equipped with 37-mm PVC, 5-µm pore size filters and cyclones equipped with 37-mm PVC, 0.8-µm pore size filters for the inhalable and the respirable aerosol mass fractions, respectively. For measurements of particle number concentrations, a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer was used.

Results:

Mean aerosol particle mass concentrations of 18.6mg m−3 and 32.2mg m−3 were measured during application of glider wax powders in the respirable and in the inhalable aerosol mass fractions, respectively. Particle number concentration of ~900 000 particles cm−3 was measured during application of glider wax powder products. Ski sole cleaning with products containing aliphates displayed solvent air concentrations up to 62.5 p.p.m.

Conclusions:

This study shows that the potential exposure to generated particles during ski waxing and ski preparation is considerable, especially during work using glide wax powders.

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