ABSTRACT: This article describes methodological approaches for reconstructing long-term occupational exposure to organic solvents among construction painters. A detailed exposure questionnaire was administered to 125 painters to develop a job exposure matrix (JEM). The questionnaire inquired about painting activities with solvent-based paints and use of protection equipment for the previous 25 years in 5-year intervals. Current and historical distributions of solvent air concentrations were assessed for the same time period based on the following information: industrial hygiene measurements, paint composition changes, and VOC emission rate changes from architectural and industrial maintenance coatings. Changes in protection factors of respirators were also assessed. A cumulative solvent exposure index was calculated for each painter through Monte Carlo simulations by combining appropriate input distributions of solvent air concentrations and protection factors of respirators with JEM. Sensitivity simulations revealed that the historical variations in solvent air concentrations had a higher impact on the cumulative solvent exposure index than changes in protection factors for respirators. Fifty-eight percent of painters were classified with a different exposure quartile when the solvent exposure index was used vs. an exposure based only on years using solvent-based paints, suggesting the need for more detailed exposure analysis than just years working when conducting epidemiologic studies for this worker population.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 06/2011; 8(6):375-86. · 1.19 Impact Factor