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Chemical process-based reconstruction of exposures for an epidemiological study. Part II. Estimated exposures to chloroprene and vinyl chloride.

Abstract

In a four-facility occupational epidemiology study of chloroprene monomer and polymer production workers, the chloroprene (CD) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) exposures were modeled for plant specific job title classes. In two facilities an acetylene-based process was used and in the other two plants only a butadiene-based process was used in the monomer synthesis. In the Acetylene process VCM was an undesirable by-product to be removed. In the newer butadiene-based process, VCM was not involved and the exposures to CD were considerably lower than they were in the earlier years. One of the limiting factors was the operator rotation within a number of job titles. This rotation and inability to differentiate between job titles subsumed in job classifications recorded in the work histories required an exposure classification scheme based on an order of magnitude separation of exposure classes. In the four facilities with considerable variation in the mix of the production methods, the CD exposures were remarkably similar in both calculated and measured values. The reductions in exposures were much more dependent upon the improvement of the production methods, rather than deliberate exposure control for occupational hygiene considerations. This is reasonable since the exposures were generally lower than the coeval exposure limits and/or guidelines. The estimated exposures were less than 100 ppm in the pre-1960 era and less than 10 ppm in the 1960-1980 era, less than 1 ppm 1980-1990 era and less than 0.5 ppm thereafter. The exposures were categorized in four classes for VCM and six classes for CD. The characteristic class exposure values were used to cumulate individual exposures over time with a quantification of the potential range for exposures that are reasonably certain to ascribe correct ranking to job classes.

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