Formaldehyde is a component of gas that is classified as Aldehyde with a molecular formula of CH2O. It is sold in a water form solution with a concentration ranging between 37 wt to 52 wt percent of formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is exposed to the air in small quantities. It occurs either from man-made or natural sources. The largest source of formaldehyde is caused by a combination of these two sources. In the United States, industries and highly polluted areas are greatly exposed to formaldehyde, thus becoming the major route of exposure. The other route of exposure is in the areas or communities that are highly populated. Exposure to formaldehyde can also be caused by rush hours when there is exhaustion from trucks. It is less outdoors than indoors. In many homes, formaldehyde is released into the air through home products and it is often inhaled while using the products. Fingernail hardener, latex paint, and nail polish are some of the products which release a larger amount of formaldehyde in the air. Particleboards, plywood, fiberglass products, decorative laminates, and new carpets have moderate formaldehyde content. However, paper towels, groceries, and bags produce formaldehyde in very small amounts. Coming in direct contact with or touching these products leads to skin exposure.
Formaldehyde exposure is caused by kerosene heaters and gases that are used indoors. It can also be caused by smokers of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes indoors. A higher amount of it (formaldehyde) is found in mobile homes because they have lower air turnovers as compared to conventional homes. Chemical plants in the United States that use or produce formaldehyde cause high exposure to people who work or leave near them. Handling of specimens in the laboratories by doctors, veterinarians, nurses, dentists, and pathologists are often exposed to the component.
However, exposure sources cannot be avoided but applicable exposure limits may be used. In this case, formaldehyde has a maximum exposure limit of 0.75 ppm (parts per million) in the United States. The applicable limits may be through putting warning labels of a health hazard on formaldehyde containers. A person using formaldehyde has to handle the amount that is necessary carefully, so as to reduce the amount of exposure in the air. All formaldehyde containers should be stored in ventilated areas and they should be well closed. Personal protective clothing like protective gloves, eye, and respiratory protective equipment is used while working. Formaldehyde is formed through latex paint and nail polishing industries.
The United States national institute for occupational safety and health (NIOSH) is responsible for the evaluation and development of sampling methods for industrial hygiene. The NIOSH sampling method described as No. 77-173 assists in developing strategies used by industrial employers. Formaldehyde has adopted method 116 as the industrial analytical and sampling method of hygiene. Air particles of formaldehyde are sampled for laboratory tests using various types of sorbent beds. Different tests in laboratories are carried out for materials and products. These tested materials and products for formaldehyde include fibers, textiles, chemicals, plastics, coatings, manufactured products, food, and hydrocarbons. (N. Chaeir, 219)
Naphthalene is a white solid crystal of organic compound with a molecular formula of C10H8. It is also known as moth flakes, tar camphor, and white tar. Naphthalene is exposed when it is produced by factories or when it spills into the air accidentally. It can enter the environment when tobacco or wood is burned and vaporization of moth repellents is exposed in the air. Burning of oil and coal releases naphthalene in the air while using mothballs. Naphthalene waste dissolves in water attaching itself to soil and leaching to drinking water that is underground. Other routes of naphthalene may be through inhaling, ingestion, eye contact, skin contact, and chronic exposure. (LARC, 399)
On the other hand, the exposure is minimized in many ways that are practical. Some of the naphthalene limit exposures that are practical, one has to keep away from open flames, sparks, heat, and hot surfaces. It is advisable to avoid smoking cigarettes and cigars. The use of explosion-proof lighting, electrical, and ventilating equipment is applied. To avoid more exposure, personal protective equipment (PPE) is used. An example of protective equipment includes protective gloves, respirators, and eye protectors. Naphthalene is found in industries that deal with tobacco, mothball, oil, and coal manufacturers. The national institute of safety and occupational health (NIOSH) uses sampling method S292 using charcoal tubes for naphthalene collection. 75% is required by NIOSH efficiency for this method. Blood samples are collected for laboratory tests to determine the content of naphthalene.
Silica is described as a compound formed by two elements – silicon and oxygen that are found in Earth’s crust with a molecular formula of SiO2. It has crystalline varieties that are major; this includes tridymite, quartz, and cristobalite. Silica has allotropes and amorphous crystalline that is used in industries with a combination of other materials.
Silica exposure is caused by dust that contains silica substances. Living in buildings that are made of concrete, using toothpaste or makeup made of silica contributes a small amount of its exposure. The greatest route of silica exposure is silica particles in the air. Some of these particles are from materials such as; coal dust, paints, abrasives, sand, and many other materials that may contain silica substances.
It is important to wash hands after handling any chemicals which are mostly used in the laboratory. To prevent more exposure to silica, workers are advised to use respirators, shower, and change their clothes at the working site. Mining, paint, agricultural, stonecutting, and oil industries are some of the industries where silica is mostly found. Types of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for silica are; protective gloves, dust masks, eye protection, and protective clothing. The NIOSH uses the 7602 sampling method for laboratory tests for silica crystalline, with the analytical technique of x-ray or spectrophotometer using a polyvinyl chloride filter. Dust participles with silica content are used in a laboratory for carrying out different tests.
Exposure to formaldehyde, naphthalene, and silica in the air is of great danger to the environment. Careful measures should be taken to prevent overexposure which causes illness. The United States NIOSH works hard to protect society from hazardous chemicals. Laboratories are designed with physical environment protocols that create a good environment thus minimizing the existing hazards. Both the public as well as workers have access to information about chemical hazards. Personal protective clothing should always be used while handling hazardous chemicals.
- B, Brian C, Julie W, Katrina P, and Michel Bouchard, Conserving Outdoor Sculpture: The Stark Collection at the Getty Center, Edition illustrated Getty Publications, New York, 2010.
- IARC, WHO, Some traditional herbal medicines, some mycotoxins, naphthalene and styrene, World Health Organization, United States, 2002.
- Chaiear, N, N. Health and Safety in the Rubber Industry, Smithers Rapra Publishing, Chicago, 2001.
- Debra Nims, Basics of industrial hygiene legacy, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1999.
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