Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Occupational health data as a basis for process engineering changes: Development of a safe work environment in the sodium azide industry

Abstract

The development of an occupational health system for a plant manufacturing sodium azide has had to confront biological and hygienic difficulties related to the nature of sodium azide. Sodium azide in pellet form is used as the nitrogen generant for automobile air bags; however, it is manufactured as a very fine powder making exposure control more difficult. Sodium azide is a rapidly active, vasodilatory hypotensive agent that causes headaches and drops in blood pressure. Occupational health assessment of the plant and its employees demonstrated the need for exposure control, based on inspection, interviews, health data, process and site review. Targeted studies demonstrated the nature and magnitude of health effect problems at this plant and the relationship to azide exposure. Engineering and hygiene changes were developed in response to the evidence of worker exposure demonstrated by the targeted studies. The occupational health surveillance system provided a monitor for temporal changes. Results appear to demonstrate over the period of the development of the program, the following changes: (1) reductions in evidence of subjective symptoms from azide exposure (health incident reports of headaches and other symptoms), (2) reductions in objective signs of effects from azide exposure (drops in cross-shift mean arterial blood pressures), and (3) reductions in measured levels of azide exposure. Future studies need to validate the evidence of exposure changes and to further identify additional sources of exposure. Interventions designed to reduce exposures need to be demonstrated to be effective and need to be monitored to demonstrate continuing effectiveness.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1.

    Trochimowicz HJ, et al. (1994) Heterocyclic and miscellaneous nitrogen compounds. In: Clayton GD, Clayton FE (eds) Patty's Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. John Wiley & Sons, New York, pp 3426–3428

  2. 2.

    American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists Inc. Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values and Biological Exposure Indices, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1991, pp 1403–1407

  3. 3.

    Smith RP, et al. (1991) Acute neurotoxicity of sodium azide and nitric oxide. Fundam Appl Toxicol 17:120–127

  4. 4.

    Hitt JM (1992) Automobile airbag industry toxic exposures. In: Sullivan JB, Krieger GR (eds) Hazardous Materials Toxicology, Principles of Environmental Health. Baltimore, pp 533–537

  5. 5.

    Weiss J (1996) Reactive airway dysfunctional syndrome due to sodium azide inhalation. (1995 Medichem Congress) Int Arch Occup Environ Health 68:469–471

  6. 6.

    Black MM, et al. (1954) Comparison of hypotensive action of sodium azide in normotensive and hypertensive patients. Proc Exp Bio Med 85:11–16

  7. 7.

    Abrams J, et al. (1987) Suicidal sodium azide ingestion. Ann Emerg Med 100:1378–1380

  8. 8.

    Esswein E, Trout T, Hales H (1995) NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA 95-0023-2531, American Azide Corporation, Cedar City, Utah

  9. 9.

    American Azide General Safety and Health Manual, AAC-SAF-006, October 1992

  10. 10.

    Lamm SH, et al. (1992/1993) Short-term Exposures to Ethylene Glycol Dinitrate Concentrations Greater than 0.4 mg/m3 show no evidence of nitrate induced headaches. First Annual International Occupational Hygiene Association, Brussels, Belgium, 1992, and Am J Epidemiol 1993; 138(8):653 (Abstract)

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Steven H. Lamm.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rippen, H.E., Lamm, S.H., Nicoll, P.G. et al. Occupational health data as a basis for process engineering changes: Development of a safe work environment in the sodium azide industry. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 68, 459–468 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00377870

Download citation

Keywords

  • Azide
  • Occupational Health
  • Sodium Azide
  • Exposure Control
  • Hypotensive Agent