As part of an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) international epidemiological study of workers in the pulp and paper industry, previously unpublished exposure measurements were assembled in a database. This article summarizes the results of 3,873 measurements carried out in the production departments of paper and paperboard mills and recycling plants in 12 countries. In the paper and paperboard mills, most of the agents were measured in the pulping and refining departments and in on-machine coating and winding of paper/paperboard. Exposures to asbestos, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, fungal spores, bacteria, nitrogen dioxide, minerals dusts, paper dust, sulphuric acid and different solvents sometimes exceeded exposure limit values. In the re-pulping and de-inking departments of recycling plants high exposures to formaldehyde, fungal spores, bacteria and paper dust were observed. High exposures to asbestos, bioaerosols, carbon monoxide and paper dust were found in many departments; ammonia, formaldehyde, mineral and paper dust and solvents were found in coating machines; and diphenyl and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) were found in some special circumstances. Measurements in the newsprint and uncoated paper machine departments revealed only a few elevated exposures. In nearly all departments, measurements of epichlorohydrin, PCBs, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and mercaptans tended to be low, often even below their detection limits. In spite of some uncertainties in the measurement data, the study provides new insights into the level and variation of occupational exposures of production workers in the paper and paperboard industry.

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International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Korhonen, K., Osvoll, P., Rix, B., Saalo, A., Sunyer, J., Szadkowska-Stanczyk, I., … Kogevinas, M. (2004). Occupational exposure to chemical agents in the paper industry. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health (Vol. 77, pp. 451–460). doi:10.1007/s00420-004-0530-5