Online Program

Developing a protocol for evaluating formaldehyde exposures in the research spaces of Boston children's hospital

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 9:18 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Michael Grant, M.S., Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Howard Brightman, ScD, PE, CIH, CSP, Environmental Health & Safety, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
Background: This study adapted an AIHA exposure monitoring framework to evaluate formaldehyde exposures in the research laboratories at Boston Children's Hospital. Other industries where employees are exposed to formaldehyde employ well-established exposure monitoring practices, often adapted from the AIHA framework. This framework transitions well to low-variable environments where exposures are relatively static. In a research laboratory setting, the exposures are more dynamic and procedures are constantly being modified. These inherent qualities of research laboratories, along with sparse resources, create a challenge for health and safety departments concerning exposure monitoring. Methods: We piloted this process in the highly variable research laboratory setting using the adapted AIHA exposure monitoring framework. We tested this protocol in order to validate the feasibility of implementing it within the research spaces. First, we identified Principle Investigators with formaldehyde in their chemical inventories. We administered a short survey and were able to identify commonly performed procedures utilizing formaldehyde. Developing exposure groups was based first on the type of procedure, then location, and then concentration. Volume, duration, and frequency did not vary considerably within the resulting groups. Second, we were able to test the utility of the decision making step using previously collected sampling data. Bayesian statistical techniques were used to describe the probability that the exposure group existed within each of the AIHA exposure control categories. Conclusion: We determined that this process works within the administrative and EH&S structure at Boston Children's Hospital. Future exposure monitoring will be more specific and intelligently targeted towards higher-risk exposures.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe the adapted AIHA exposure monitoring framework used in a highly variable research laboratory setting. Discuss the key advantages and limitations of a performance based exposure monitoring in research laboratories.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student studying industrial hygiene and have worked on this project closely with the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at Boston Children's Hospital. My interests include improving the health and safety of workers beyond regulatory requirements through improved policy and practice.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.