Carbon monoxide exposure in blast furnace workers.Aust J Public Health. 1992 Sep; 16(3):262-8.AJ
This study investigated the occupational exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) of a group of blast furnace workers from an integrated steelworks, compared to a control group having no significant occupational CO exposure from other areas in the same works. The study was undertaken in 1984 at Port Kembla, New South Wales. Carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb) levels before and after an eight-hour work shift were measured in 98 male steelworkers: 52 from two CO-exposed iron blast furnaces and 46 controls from production areas in the same steelworks. The sample was stratified by smoking habits. Environmental air CO levels had been found to be consistently higher on one furnace than on the other. Absorption of CO from the working environment occurred in workers on the blast furnace with higher CO levels, regardless of smoking habits. On this blast furnace, some readings of COHb levels after a workshift in nonsmokers approached the proposed Australian occupational limit of 5 per cent COHb saturation. Overall, workers with the highest occupational exposure who smoked most heavily had the highest absorption of CO over a work shift. Biological monitoring gives an accurate measure of individual worker 'dose' of CO from all sources. Both environmental monitoring and biological monitoring need to be included as part of a program for controlling occupational CO exposure.