Airborne concentrations of organophosphorus pesticides in Korean pesticide manufacturing/formulation workplaces

Pesticide manufactuing/formulation workers rather than farmers or applicators or people living with them are primarily exposed to organophosphorus pesticides (OPs). However, airborne concentrations in the workplace have rarely been detected. During this study, a total of 121 air samples (personal or area sampling) were collected at 4 factories where chlorpyrifos, EPN, parathion, and phorate, were manufactured/formulated from March through July, 2007-2008. Samples were collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) method and were analysed by GC-MS. The geometric mean (GM) level of airborne chlorpyrifos was 0.17 mg/m3, 85% Korean Occupational Exposure Limit (KOEL) of 0.2 mg/m3, and at 95% confidence, airborne concentrations exceeded the KOEL 58.8% of the time or less, indicating that this concentration level was unacceptable according to exposure assessment using a LogNorm2. However, compared with levels of TLV and/or PEL and/or WEL, the GM concentration levels of other OPs were remarkably low (range, 0.1-15.0%) and that these levels of concentrations to the other Ops were acceptable. The levels of airborne concentrations of OPs depended on isolation of the process; in other words, the levels depended on the extent to which the process was automated. The reason that the airborne concentration levels, except for those of chlorpyrifos, were very much lower than expected may be attributable to the fact that they were not exposed to 100% toxic active ingredients in pesticide formulation workplaces because of the use of supplemental agents or additives to produce complete pesticides. The author concluded that this study is limited since there were seldom or neither any data of previous studies to be compared with the study results nor dermal exposure data. The results were used to revise KOELs for OPs in 2010.

Author: Han, Don-Hee ;Full Source: Industrial Health 2011, 49(6), 703-713 (English) ;