Working Conditions for the Specimen Handling Activity of the National Human Monitoring Program for Pesticides

B-133192: Published: Sep 20, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1977.

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Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handle specimens of human fatty tissue, blood serum, and urine in an office of the East Tower, EPA Headquarters. This office does not have adequate space or the proper equipment to provide a safe workplace. An accident, though remote, could endanger not only the employees of this particular office, but many others working in the building. The specimen handling activity is part of the National Human Monitoring Program for Pesticides in the Ecological Monitoring Branch of the Technical Services Division. The office has operated in the building since 1973.

During November 1976 EPA's Occupational Safety and Health staff inspected the operation and recommended that, because of the potential health hazard associated with specimen samples, a variety of actions be taken as soon as possible, including: provide personal protective clothing and equipment as needed; develop a standard operating procedure for emergencies; include personnel in an occupational health program immediately; separate the office from the general work area; provide a laboratory exhaust hood or a biological safety cabinet to prevent exposure of personnel to etiologic agents; and provide a one-pass air system for the activity to prevent the spread of etiologic agents to other areas via the ventilation system.

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