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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2012 Sep;215(5):514-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2011.10.006. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Airborne concentrations of metals and total dust during solid catalyst loading and unloading operations at a petroleum refinery.

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ChemRisk, LLC, 101 2nd Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.


Workers handle catalysts extensively at petroleum refineries throughout the world each year; however, little information is available regarding the airborne concentrations and plausible exposures during this type of work. In this paper, we evaluated the airborne concentrations of 15 metals and total dust generated during solid catalyst loading and unloading operations at one of the largest petroleum refineries in the world using historical industrial hygiene samples collected between 1989 and 2006. The total dust and metals, which included aluminum, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, platinum, silicon, silver, vanadium, and zinc, were evaluated in relation to the handling of four different types of solid catalysts associated with three major types of catalytic processes. Consideration was given to the known components of the solid catalysts and any metals that were likely deposited onto them during use. A total of 180 analytical results were included in this analysis, representing 13 personal and 54 area samples. Of the long-term personal samples, airborne concentrations of metals ranged from <0.001 to 2.9mg/m(3), and, in all but one case, resulted in concentrations below the current U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Permissible Exposure Limits and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' Threshold Limit Values. The arithmetic mean total dust concentration resulting from long-term personal samples was 0.31mg/m(3). The data presented here are the most complete set of its kind in the open literature, and are useful for understanding the potential exposures during solid catalyst handling activities at this petroleum refinery and perhaps other modern refineries during the timeframe examined.

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