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Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures


The potential for para-occupational, domestic, or take-home exposures from asbestos-contaminated work clothing has been acknowledged for decades, but historically has not been quantitatively well characterized. A simulation study was performed to measure airborne chrysotile concentrations associated with laundering of contaminated clothing worn during a full shift work day. Work clothing fitted onto mannequins was exposed for 6.5 h to an airborne concentration of 11.4 f/cc (PCME) of chrysotile asbestos, and was subsequently handled and shaken. Mean 5-min and 15-min concentrations during active clothes handling and shake-out were 3.2 f/cc and 2.9 f/cc, respectively (PCME). Mean airborne PCME concentrations decreased by 55% 15 min after clothes handling ceased, and by 85% after 30 min. PCM concentrations during clothes handling were 11–47% greater than PCME concentrations. Consistent with previously published data, daily mean 8-h TWA airborne concentrations for clothes-handling activity were approximately 1.0% of workplace concentrations. Similarly, weekly 40-h TWAs for clothes handling were approximately 0.20% of workplace concentrations. Estimated take-home cumulative exposure estimates for weekly clothes handling over 25-year working durations were below 1 f/cc-year for handling work clothes contaminated in an occupational environment with full shift airborne chrysotile concentrations of up to 9 f/cc (8-h TWA).

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We would like to thank and acknowledge Amanda Burns, James Keenan, Joshua Maskrey, and Lauren Spicer for their support in the data collection efforts.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Sahmel.

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Competing interests

At the time of the study, 8 of the 13 authors were employed by Cardno ChemRisk, a consulting firm that performs scientific research and support for the government, corporations, law firms, and various scientific/professional organizations. The other five authors were employed by RJ Lee Group, an analytical laboratory and consulting firm. A portion of the funding for the preparation of this article and the underlying research was provided by John Crane Inc., a manufacturer of sealing devices that historically manufactured or supplied asbestos-containing gaskets and packing. Funding was also provided by Cardno ChemRisk and the RJ Lee Group. Cardno ChemRisk has been engaged by John Crane Inc., to provide general consulting, expert advice, and litigation support on scientific matters involving asbestos. This paper was prepared and written exclusively by the authors without any review or input by John Crane Inc. employees or legal counsel. Seven of the authors (DJP, JLH, DG, JS, AKM, RJL, and DVO) have served as expert witnesses regarding historical exposures of various tradesmen to asbestos. AKM, JLH, and DG have testified on matters related to the historical use of asbestos-containing gasket and packing materials on behalf of John Crane Inc.

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Sahmel, J., Barlow, C., Gaffney, S. et al. Airborne asbestos take-home exposures during handling of chrysotile-contaminated clothing following simulated full shift workplace exposures. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 26, 48–62 (2016).

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  • asbestos
  • domestic exposure
  • exposure assessment
  • inhalation exposure
  • para-occupational exposure
  • take-home exposure

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