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Personal air sampling and biological monitoring of occupational exposure to the soil fumigantcis-1,3-dichloropropene


OBJECTIVES To assess exposure of commercial application workers to the nematocidecis-1,3-dichloropropene (cis-DCP).

METHODS The study was conducted during the annual application season, August to 15 November, in the starch potato growing region in The Netherlands. 14 Application workers collected end of shift urine samples on each fumigation day (n=119). The mercapturic acid metabolite N-acetyl-S-(cis-3-chloro-2-propenyl)-L-cysteine (cis-DCP-MA) in urine was used for biological monitoring of the cis-DCP uptake. Inhalatory exposure was assessed by personal air sampling during a representative sample (n=37) of the fumigation days. Extensive information was collected on factors of possible relevance to the exposure and the application workers were observed for compliance with the statutory directions for use. The inhalatory exposure during all fumigation days was estimated from the relation between the personal air sampling data and the biological monitoring data. Exposure levels were correlated with the general work practice. The fumigation equipment and procedures were in accordance with the statutory directions of use, with the exception of the antidrip systems. Two antidrip systems were used: antidrip nozzles or a compressed air system.

RESULTS The geometric mean exposure of the application workers was 2.7 mg/m3 (8 hour time weighted average); range 0.1–9.5 mg/m3. On 25 days (21%) the exposure exceeded the Dutch occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 5 mg/m3. This could mainly be explained by prolonged working days of more than 8 hours. The general work practice of the application workers was rated by the observers as good or poor. No difference in exposure to cis-DCP was found in the use of none, one, or two antidrip systems. Malfunctioning of the antidrip systems and lack of experience with the compressed air system were identified as possible causes for the lack of effectiveness of these antidrip systems. The use of personal protection was not always in accordance with the statutory directions of use. Dermal exposure to liquid cis-DCP was found four times during repair and maintenance, but the biological monitoring data did not suggest a significant increase incis-DCP uptake.

CONCLUSIONS The application of cis-DCP in the potato growing industry can be performed at exposure concentrations below the Dutch OEL of 5 mg/m3 if the working days are limited to 8 hours. An injector equipped with either kind of antidrip system which is in good working order, as well as the consistent use of personal protection in accordance with the statutory directions of use, may ensure exposure concentrations below the Dutch OEL.

  • cis-1,3-dichloropropene
  • occupational exposure
  • soil fumigation
  • N-acetyl-S-(cis-3-chloro-2-propenyl)-L-cysteine

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  •   * The statutory directions for use include instructions for fumigation withcis-DCP. The fumigation period ends on 15 November. A full face respirator with A2P3 filters (suitable for organic chlorine compounds) should be worn during all activities in which the concentration of DCP in the inhalatory air may exceed 5 mg/m3. Respirators should always be worn during loading, repair, and maintenance. The filters should be renewed within 1 month or after a high exposure due to a calamity. Protective clothing, PVA gloves with long shafts, and boots should be worn during all activities with potential risk for dermal exposure to liquid DCP. The gloves should be stored outside the tractor cabin. Contaminated clothing should be removed and contaminated gloves or boots washed with plenty of water. DCP has to be loaded into the tractor container by overpressure. The goose foot injector has to be equipped with antidrip nozzles or a compressed air system to prevent spillage after lifting of the injector. The injector has to be brought to the application depth (minimal 15 cm) before injecting DCP and the flow to the nozzles should be interrupted at least one meter before the injector is lifted. After fumigation the soil has to be compacted or covered with plastic.