2009 Volume 47 Issue 2 Pages 155-159
Perchloroethylene, the most widely used solvent in dry cleaning, is toxic to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system and may be a human carcinogen. An exposure assessment was carried out in 69 dry-cleaning shops using perchloroethylene in Tehran city, Iran. The 8-h time weighted average (TWA) breathing zone air samples and end-exhaled air samples were obtained from 179 workers who worked as the job titles included machine operator (n=71), presser (n=63) and counter area (clerk) (n=45). The mean perchloroethylene concentrations in breathing zone air were 11.5 ppm, 9.6 ppm and 7.2 ppm respectively. The mean perchloroethylene concentrations in end-exhaled air of the same participants in Saturday morning (prior to shift of workweek) were 1.7 ppm, 1.5 ppm and 1.1 ppm, but in Thursday evening (end of shift at end of workweek) were 2.4 ppm, 2.0 ppm and 1.5 ppm respectively. This study found that, the mean perchloroethylene concentrations in breathing zone air and end-exhaled air in the dry-cleaning workers were lower than the TLV (25 ppm) and BEI (5 ppm) recommended by ACGIH. Regression analysis showed that the concentration of perchloroethylene in breathing zone air (TWA) was highly and significantly correlated with the concentration of perchloroethylene in end-exhaled air in Saturday morning with a regression equation Y=0.147X + 0.031 (r=0.99, p<0.001) and also in Thursday evening with a regression equation Y=0.201X + 0.072 (r=0.98, p<0.001) where X is the concentration of perchloroethylene in breathing zone air and Y is that the concentration of perchloroethylene in end-exhaled air. The results also showed the potential utility of measuring the concentration of perchloroethylene in end-exhaled air as a method for assessing relative exposure in dry cleaning shops which use it.