Occupational Asthma Reference

Senior H, Evans G, RR1044 Consultation on monitoring of water-miscible metalworking fluid (MWF) mists, Health and Safety Exexutive, 2015;RR1044:1-43,

Keywords: UK, HSE, consultation, metal-working fluid, air measurement

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The aim of this research was to examine metal working fluid (MWF) exposure limits and guidance set by other countries, summarise studies and investigations that examined water-miscible MWF mist as well as new techniques to monitor mist. The following conclusions were drawn:

The majority of guidance levels or exposure limits for MWF mist relate to mineral oil and not watermiscible fluids. Certain recommended exposure limits (RELs) such as those set by NIOSH (USA) and INRS (France) relate to all MWFs.

European countries, with the exception of the UK, and the USA monitor all forms of MWF mist by capture onto filters (with or without subsequent chemical extraction steps), followed by gravimetric analysis or the use of infra-red spectroscopy.

Historically, average mist levels have not changed over time; the majority were below the previous UK guidance value of 1.0 mg/m3 with a large proportion below the NIOSH REL of 0.5 mg/m3. This suggests that as ill health was reported at these low levels of mist, the exposure limits have no relevance to health risk.

A different approach to MWF mist monitoring may be required based on good practice. The question is whether the use of monitoring devices or internationally recognised methods (eg gravimetric analysis) might help to determine the effectiveness of this control strategy.

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