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By T. Tikuisis, G. Taylor, K. Sonnenberg and J. Cavanagh


ABSTRACT: In this study, the airborne concentrations of analytes of occupa-tional health significance for workers engaged in commercial-scale processing of polyethylene were measured. Eight polyethylene resins, selected primarily from those produced using an advanced solution-phase process, were extruded under commercial-scale processing conditions appropriate to their application: blown and cast film; and blow-, injection-, and rotational-molding. Air samples were taken from operator breathing zones and representative workplace air using recognized occupational health and safety protocols. The compounds selected consisted of aldehydes (acetaldehyde, acrolein, crotonaldehyde, formaldehyde, n-valeraldehyde), ketones (acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, THF, methyl n-amyl ketone, ethyl butyl ketone, ketene), organic acids (acetic, formic, and propanoic), aromatics (benzene, toluene, xylenes), and other compounds (nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ethylene oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, paraffin wax fume). Of the 488 concentrations measured from operator breathing zones and workplace air, 466 were below sampling method detection limits. Twelve of the remaining 22 concentrations were less than 20 % of the established exposure limits, and were therefore considered to present a statistically insignificant exposure risk. Five of the remaining 10 measurements consisted of ketene concentrations, which were found to be below detection limits upon retesting. The other five concentrations, of ozone, were also retested and found to be below detection limits. It is concluded that commercial-scale polyethylene extrusion presents minimal inhalation hazards in an adequately ventilated workplace. KEY WORDS: polyethylene, quantification of emission compounds, Advanced SCLAIRTECHTM, exposure limits for polyethylene. *Author to whom correspondence should be addressed

Year: 2016
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