Workers exposure to formaldehyde in the tanneries of the Tuscany leather district, following the use of biocides in the manufacturing process
In 2016, following the European classification as carcinogen (category 1B), formaldehyde was practically eliminated among the products used in the tanning companies of the leather district in Tuscany. A survey, conducted by the competent local Health Authority, revealed the use, in the leather processing cycle, of various products containing biocides, some of which known as formaldehyde cessors. In consideration that no risk assessment document took into account exposure to formaldehyde, in the period 2017-2019 environmental monitoring surveys with personal and static samplings were conducted in five different companies to evaluate the real release of this substance during processing carried out using mixtures containing biocides. Although the picture still needs to be studied in depth, anomalous exposures of workers emerged during the unloading of the hides from the drums in a company that used isothiazolinones for resining treatment, and in a company that used "bronopol" (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol - CAS 52-51-7) during the fattening of the hides. The preliminary data obtained demonstrate that workers' exposure to formaldehyde can be present in relation to the type and quantity of biocides in the mixtures used.
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