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Oil Mist, Mineral

General Description

  • Synonyms: Mineral oil; Paraffin oil mist; Heavy mineral oil mist; White mineral oil mist; Petroleum-base cutting oils
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 5010
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 8012-95-1
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: PY8030000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook:
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Oil Mist (Mineral): Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit Limit Values HE Codes Health factors and Target Organs

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry

See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1

5 mg/m3 HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry

See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

5 mg/m3 TWA HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation

OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment

See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards

5 mg/m3 TWA HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)

5 mg/m3 TWA

10 mg/m3 STEL

HE15 Lung irritation, dermatitis

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2010)

Highly refined:
5 mg/m3 TWA
(inhalable fraction)


HE10 Decreased pulmonary function
HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation, dermatitis

Poorly or mildly refined:
Not established; exposure by all routes should be carefully controlled to levels as low as possible


HE2 Skin or other cancers
HE10 Decreased pulmonary function
HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation, dermatitis
CAL/OSHA PEL 5 mg/m3 TWA (particulate) HE10 Decreased pulmonary function
HE15 Upper respiratory tract irritation, dermatitis
  • Carcinogenic classification:
    • National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Known to be human carcinogens (untreated or mildly treated mineral oils); Not listed (highly refined mineral oils)
    • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 1 (carcinogenic to humans [untreated or mildly treated mineral oils]); Group 3 (not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans [highly refined mineral oils])
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carcinogenic classification: Not listed
    • EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established
    • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): Not established
    • NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 2,500 mg/m3
  • Notes:
    1. Lung disease and fibrosis of the lung may continue to worsen after removal from exposure (Skyberg et al. 1992).
    2. There were 2 reported cases of fire-eater's pneumonia, a type of chemical pneumonitis that can occur during a flame-blowing or fire-eating performance, after accidental aspiration of paraffin oil. Symptoms included chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, fever, and hemoptysis (Yitig et al. 2012).
    3. An uncommon but potentially serious disease resulting from exposure to oil mist is exogenous lipoid pneumonia. With this condition, proliferative fibrosis of the lungs can occur. The main issue with the disease is that symptoms are often nonspecific, and roentgenographic findings may simulate other diseases, so people may go undiagnosed. This could then lead to serious complications due to inappropriate curative measures (Spickard and Hirschmann 1994).
    4. Regarding dermatitis, which may take a long time to heal, it has been suggested that biocides are the most common cause of allergic skin reactions, whereas irritation is mainly due to emulsifiers in the oil (Pryce et al. 1989).
    5. Machining operations using straight, soluble and semi-synthetic fluids cause exposure to oil mist. These aerosols are complex mixtures including oil mist. Exposure to these mixtures is associated with respiratory conditions and possibly cancer, although the fraction of effects attributable to oil mist is undefined. (NIOSH, 1998).
    6. A substantial fraction of oil mist evaporates from filter samples, thereby underestimating exposure. (Volckens, 1999).
  • Literature Basis:
    • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Mineral Oil, Excluding Metal Working Fluids. 2010.
    • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Metalworking Fluids, DHHS (NIOSH) Pub. No. 98-102, (1998).
    • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Mineral Oil Mist. September 1978.
    • Pryce, D.W., White, J, English, J.S.C. and Rycroft, R.J.G.: Soluble oil dermatitis: a review. J. Soc. Occup. Med. 39(3): 93-98, 1989.
    • Skyberg, K., Rønneberg, A., Christensen, C.C., Næss-Andresen, C.F., Borgersen, A. and Refsum, H.E.: Lung function and radiographic signs of pulmonary fibrosis in oil exposed workers in a cable manufacturing company: a follow up study. Br. J. Ind. Med. 49(5): 309-315, 1992.
    • Spickard, A., III and Hirschmann, J.V.: Exogenous lipoid pneumonia. Arch Intern. Med. 154(6): 686-692, 1994.
    • Volckens J et al, Oil Mist Concentration: A Comparison of Sampling Methods, American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal, Volume 60, 684-689, 1999
    • Yitig, O., Bektas, F., Sayrac, AV, and Senay, E. Fire-eater's pneumonia: two case reports of accidentally aspirated paraffin oil. J Emerg Med. 42(4): 417-419, 2012
  • Date Last Revised: 12/11/2012

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Tared 37-mm diameter low-ash polyvinyl chloride filter
  • maximum volume: 960 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gravimetric
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2121)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel can obtain tared sampling media from the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC).
  • note: If the net weight of the sample yields a concentration below the standard for the substance, the Salt Lake Technical Center (SLTC) will perform no further work on that sample. If the net weight corresponds to an amount greater than the standard, the sample may be analyzed for the oil and the result reported as that oil mist.
  • note: Submit a sample of the bulk oil substance in a separate mailing container other than used for air samples. Indicate on the air sample submission sheet that a bulk sample has been submitted. Cutting oils may contain nitrosamines.
  • current oil mist analysis method: The bulk sample is determined to fluoresce or not to fluoresce, and then the appropriate analysis method listed below is used to perform the analysis.
  • fluorescence analytical method: Analysis is for oils that fluoresce
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-128)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • infra red analytical method: Analysis is for oils that do not fluoresce
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-178SG)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Oil Mist 1/a, order no. 67 33031
  • sampling information: 100 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 10 mg/m3
  • detection limit: 1 mg/m3
  • overall uncertainty: 50%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Oil 10/a-P, order no. 67 28371
  • sampling information: see tube instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 1 mg/m3
  • detection limit: 0.1 mg/m3
  • overall uncertainty: see tube instructions
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

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