Question of the Day – Friday December 29, 2017

Question: How might workers be exposed to so called metal working fluids (MWFs) and what are the adverse health effects that may arise from occupational exposure to MWFs?

Answer: The cited reference notes: “Some 1.2 million workers in machine finishing, machine tooling, and other metalworking and metal-forming operations are potentially exposed. Workers can be exposed to the fluids by breathing aerosols generated in the machining process, or through skin contact when they handle parts, tools, and equipment covered with the fluids. NIOSH defines MWF aerosol as the mist and all contaminants in the mist generated during grinding and machining operations involving products from metal and metal substitutes. Occupational exposures to metalworking fluids may cause a variety of health effects. Respiratory conditions include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, and asthma. Work-related asthma is one of today’s most prevalent occupational disorders, imposing significant costs in healthcare and workers’ compensation. Dermatologic exposures are most commonly associated with, but not limited to, allergic and irritant dermatitis. In addition, substantial evidence shows that past exposures to some metalworking fluids were associated with increased risk of some types of cancer. Although actions taken in the last several decades have reduced that risk, it is not known if these actions have totally eliminated the risk.” (; accessed December 2017)