Evaluation of respiratory and dermal occupational exposures to monoethanolamine during cleaning


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A Master's thesis.
Publication sub-type
Continuing education (thesis)
Evaluation of respiratory and dermal occupational exposures to monoethanolamine during cleaning
Gerster Fabian Melchior
Vernez David
Institution details
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Lausanne : Institut universitaire romand de Santé au travail
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Professional cleaning is a basic service occupation with a wide variety of tasks carried out in all kind of different sectors and workplaces by a large workforce. One important risk for cleaning workers is the exposure to chemical substances that are present in cleaning products.Monoethanolamine was found to be often present in cleaning products such as general purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, floor cleaners and kitchen cleaners. Monoethanolamine can injure the skin, and exposure to monoethanolamine was associated to asthma even when the air concentrations were low. It is a strong irritant and known to be involved in sensitizing mechanisms. It is very likely that the use of cleaning products containing monoethanolamine gives rise to respiratory and dermal exposures. Therefore there is a need to further investigate the exposures to monoethanolamine for both, respiratory and dermal exposure.The determination of monoethanolamine has traditionally been difficult and analytical methods available are little adapted for occupational exposure assessments. For monoethanolamine air concentrations, a sampling and analytical method was already available and could be used. However, a method to analyses samples for skin exposure assessments as well as samples of skin permeation experiments was missing. Therefore one main objective of this master thesis was to search an already developed and described analytical method for the measurement of monoethanolamine in water solutions, and to set it up in the laboratory. Monoethanolamine was analyzed after a derivatisation reaction with o-pthtaldialdehyde. The derivated fluorescing monoethanolamine was then separated with high performance liquid chromatography and detection took place with a fluorescent detector. The method was found to be suitable for qualitative and quantitative analysis of monoethanolamine. An exposure assessment was conducted in the cleaning sector to measure the respiratory and dermal exposures to monoethanolamine during floor cleaning. Stationary air samples (n=36) were collected in 8 companies and samples for dermal exposures (n=12) were collected in two companies. Air concentrations (Mean = 0.18 mg/m3, Standard Deviation = 0.23 mg/m3, geometric Mean = 0.09 mg/m3, Geometric Standard Deviation = 3.50) detected were mostly below 1/10 of the Swiss 8h time weighted average occupational exposure limit. Factors that influenced the measured monoethanolamine air concentrations were room size, ventilation system and the concentration of monoethanolamine in the cleaning product and amount of monoethanolamine used. Measured skin exposures ranged from 0.6 to 128.4 mg/sample. Some cleaning workers that participated in the skin exposure assessment did not use gloves and had direct contact with the solutions containing the cleaning product and monoethanolamine. During the entire sampling campaign, cleaning workers mostly did not use gloves. Cleaning workers are at risk to be regularly exposed to low air concentrations of monoethanolamine. This exposure may be problematic if a worker suffers from allergic reactions (e.g. Asthma). In that case a substitution of the cleaning product may be a good prevention measure as several different cleaning products are available for similar cleaning tasks. Currently there are no occupational exposure limits to compare the skin exposures that were found. To prevent skin exposures, adaptations of the cleaning techniques and the use of gloves should be considered. The simultaneous skin and airborne exposures might accelerate adverse health effects. Overall the risks caused by exposures to monoethanolamine are considered as low to moderate when the cleaning products are used correctly. Whenever possible, skin exposures should be avoided. Further research should consider especially the dermal exposure routes, as very high exposures might occur by skin contact with cleaning products. Dermatitis but also sensitization might be caused by skin exposures. In addition, new biomedical insights are needed to better understand the risks of the dermal exposure. Therefore skin permeability experiments should be considered.
Ethanolamine , Ethanolamine/analysis , Detergents , Detergents/analysis , Chromatography, Gas , Chromatography, Gas/methods , Occupational Exposure , Occupational Exposure/analysis
Create date
09/10/2014 16:35
Last modification date
20/08/2019 17:15
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