Occupational Exposure Risks from Microbial Pathogens in Metalworking Fluids
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the potential for exposure to microbial pathogens in metalworking fluids.
CIHs are trained to recognize and prevent exposure risks for workers, including those involved with metalworking fluids.
Last month, the Belfast Telegraph published a story about metal workers at a local shipyard who were diagnosed with pneumococcal disease. At least four workers were reportedly infected at the historic shipyard where the Titanic was built over 100 years ago. The workers are believed to have been exposed to aerosols containing the bacteria.
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by bacteria called pneumococcus, including Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can cause a variety of illnesses ranging from ear and blood infections to pneumococcal pneumonia and meningitis.
Metal workers are at risk of exposure to a variety of infectious agents when working with contaminated metalworking fluids. Metalworking fluids, also known as MWFs, are used to reduce heat and friction and to remove metal particles in industrial machining and grinding operations. Some types of MWFs can support microbial growth. If these fluids are not properly maintained or changed frequently, contaminants may become established and grow exponentially. Workers may then be exposed to bacterial and fungal cells or cell components and biological byproducts such as endotoxins, exotoxins and mycotoxins.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Occupational exposures to metalworking fluids may cause a variety of health effects. Respiratory conditions include hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, and asthma. Work-related asthma (WRA) is one of today’s most prevalent occupational disorders, imposing significant costs in healthcare and workers’ compensation.”
One group of dedicated professionals who help to prevent exposure to MWFs and other occupational hazards are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). “CIHs are trained to recognize and prevent exposure risks for workers, including those involved with metalworking fluids,” said Nicole Greeson, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Core competencies of the CIH® program include air sampling and instrumentational analysis; chemical and biohazards; engineering controls and ventilation; health risk analysis and hazard communication; and work environments and industrial processes.”
Across the globe, thousands of CIHs work as private consultants or directly for industry and government agencies to protect workers, their communities and the environment. To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people are certified to use the CIH® designation.
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