21 Oct 1986

Health aspects of worker exposure to oil mists

Report no. 86/69: The current Threshc lue (TLV) for worker exposure to oil mist recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) is an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) level of 5 mg/m3.

This figure has also been adopted by many countries in national lists of permissible exposure standards.The documentation supporting the ACGIH TLV (2) comments "The 5 mg/m3 limit would appear to provide a considerable margin of safety against even relatively minor changes in the lungs,especially for the types of cutting and lubricating oils mostfrequently encountered, and where there has been no substantial altering of composition by heat and/or oxidation".

It continues with the proviso:

- "Certain oils, however, may contain t0xi.c and even carcinogenic components either natural or added, and in such cases there may be little or no safety factor in the 5 mg/m3 TLV".

Despite this warning it has become quite common practice to apply the 5 mg/m3 TLV to all varieties of oil mist without regard to the make up of the oil from which the mist is generated. Therefore, as part of its continuing reviews of the health aspects of petroleum products, CONCAWE has considered it appropriate to assess, from available published information, the broad classes of oils for which the ACGIH oil mist TLV is applicable. The oil mists considered are those aerosols derived from the manufacture or use,excluding combustion, of petroleum-based products.

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