Three workers from a color printing factory were admitted to community hospitals in 1985 with manifestations of acute hepatitis. One of the three had superimposed acute renal failure and pulmonary edema. An investigation was subsequently conducted at the plant to determine the etiology of the outbreak and the prevalence of liver disease among the remaining workers. Comprehensive medical evaluations were conducted, which included physical examinations, liver function tests, and serological screening for hepatitis. Seventeen of 25 workers from the plant had abnormal liver function tests 10 days after the outbreak, and a significant association was found between the presence of abnormal liver function tests and a history of recently having worked inside any of three rooms in which an interconnecting air conditioning system had been installed to cool the printing machines. After further investigation, it was determined that the incident occurred following inadvertent use of carbon tetrachloride to clean a pump in the printing machine. A simulation of the pump cleaning operation revealed ambient air levels of carbon tetrachloride of 300–500 ppm. Ultimately, it was concluded that the outbreak was in all likelihood due to the combined use of carbon tetrachloride and isopropyl alcohol in the cleaning operation. This outbreak underscores the importance of adopting appropriate industrial hygiene measures in a rapidly industrializing nation such as Taiwan.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health