Work Exposure to VOC in Storage Areas of Retail Stores


Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been linked to airway disease and early deaths. The ESQUISSE study of IAQ conducted by the French Research and Safety Institute (INRS), characterized the concentrations of various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in 10 retail stores and storage areas. The IAQ was generally better in sales areas than storage areas, which are more often unventilated and overloaded with new products. For example, in clothing stores, formaldehyde concentrations between 29.0 and 45.0 µg m-3 were measured in non-ventilated storage areas located in the basement; in sales areas, concentrations did not exceed 10.2 µg m-3. Similarly, total VOC (TVOC) concentrations in the two main storage areas were 1153 and 1223 µg m-3 toluene equivalent, whereas they were less than 77.0 µg m-3 toluene equivalent in all sales areas. Many employees work in these high-exposure areas either temporarily or for the entire day, unpacking boxes, placing products on shelves, or collecting products. Reporting primarily on formaldehyde, toluene, or TVOC concentrations, this article shows, in addition to the distinction between sales and storage areas, how an unpacking task can affect an employee’s exposure, and an example of the impact of ambient temperature on VOC concentrations. The results presented clearly highlight the issue of occupational exposure of workers in storage areas.

Authors: Laurence Robert, Romain Guichard, Jennifer Klingler
; Full Source: Annals of work exposures and health 2020 Nov 4;wxaa103. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxaa103.