Poster Presentation Abstract

Title: Exposure Assessment: An Evaluation of Benzene from the Application and Use of Spiked Penetrating Solvents

Authors: Leonard G. Burrelli, MS, John W. Spencer, CIH, CSP and Marc J. Plisko, CIH

Presented at: AIHce 2004, Atlanta, GA

Mechanics commonly use petroleum distillate-based solvents to penetrate and dislodge rusty bolts, nuts and other metal parts during maintenance activities. Some commercial preparations of the petroleum-distillate product have been reported to contain varying quantities of benzene. The purpose of this study was to determine the exposure of a mechanic and his helper to benzene vapors when using commercially available petroleum distillate solvents spiked with various concentrations of benzene. In order to evaluate these exposures, three batches of penetrating solvent were spiked with known weight percentages of benzene. Specifically, preparations of the solvent/benzene solutions were made in approximate 1%, 7% and 30% concentrations of benzene by weight. The actual weight percentages of the prepared mixtures were determined by laboratory analysis.

The results demonstrate that the mechanic and helper were not exposed to benzene in air at levels greater than the current OSHA 8 hour TWA permissible exposure limit of 1 part per million (ppm). Additionally, twenty-seven air samples were collected for 15-minute short-term exposure limit (STEL) determination from the mechanic and helper during the entire study. One sample of the 27 collected and analyzed marginally exceeded the OSHA 15-minute STEL of 5 ppm. The one sample that exceeded this limit was reported at 5.03 ppm and was collected from the mechanic during the work task associated with the use of the 6.8% solvent/benzene.

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