Occupational exposure to carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide during the manufacture of carbon black

K. Gardiner, W. N. Trethowan, J. M. Harrington, I. A. Calvert, D. C. Glass

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The manufacture of carbon black is known to generate carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide in the 'production gas' and the pyrolysis products of the 'production gas', respectively. Adverse health effects have been reported as associated with both contaminants (coronary heart disease with carbon monoxide and respiratory morbidity with sulphur dioxide). A major cross-sectional and longitudinal respiratory morbidity study is being conducted to assess the effects of exposure to carbon black on lung function, on chest X-rays and on responses to a questionnaire. The questionnaire includes questions on respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms, so that information regarding confounding exposure is essential.The working population of 18 manufacturing plants in seven European Countries was split into 13 job title numbers (1-13) which were then amalgamated into five job categories (A-E), with an appropriate (statistically) number of samples taken from each plant-job category. In total, 1322 carbon monoxide samples and 1301 sulphur dioxide samples were taken, using actively pumped long-term colorimetnc tubes. In the majority of cases, more than half of the samples in each plant-job category were either zero or trace, thereby preventing the accurate estimation of the average exposure. The highest median carbon monoxide concentration was from the amalgamated data from all 18 plants in job number 9 (furnace operators), the highest median sulphur dioxide concentration was only 'trace'. The large number of zero and trace values also precluded the generation of current and retrospective exposure indices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-372
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes

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