Exposure profiles of workers from indium tin oxide target manufacturing and recycling factories in Taiwan

Exposure profiles of workers from indium tin oxide target manufacturing and recycling factories in Taiwan

International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. 2021 Apr;233:Article number 113708.

Hsu, YT; Su, TY; Chen, CY; Liao, HY; Kuo, YC; Wu, WT; Li, LA; Lai, CH; Liou, SH

Abstract: Indium tin oxide exposure poses a potential health risk, but the exposure assessment in occupational setting remains incomplete and continues to be a significant challenge. To this end, we investigated the association of work type, airborne indium concentration, respirable fraction of total indium, and cumulative indium exposure index (CEI) with the levels of plasma indium (P–In) and urinary indium (U–In) among 302 indium tin oxide target manufacturing and recycling workers in Taiwan. We observed that recycling-crushing produced the highest concentrations of total indium (area: 2084.8 μg/m3; personal: 3494.5 μg/m3) and respirable indium (area: 533.4 μg/m3; personal: 742.0 μg/m3). Powdering produced the highest respirable fraction of total indium (area: 58.6%; personal: 81.5%), where the workers had the highest levels of P–In (geometric mean: 2.0 μg/L) and U–In (1.0 μg/g creatinine). After adjusting for the confounder, the CEIs of powdering (βPR = 0.78; βPR = 0.44), bonding (βPT = 0.61; βPT = 0.37), and processing workers (βPT = 0.43; βPT = 0.28) showed significant associations with P–In and U–In, validating its utility in monitoring the exposure. Also, the respirable fraction of total indium significantly contributed to the increased levels of P–In and U–In among workers. The varying levels of relationship noted between indium exposure and the levels of P–In and U–In among workers with different work types suggested that setting the exposure limits among different work types is warranted.

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