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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: 5010

CAS number: 8012-95-1

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
5 mg/m3 TWA 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
10 mg/m3 STEL
HE15 -- lung irritation, dermatitis
ACGIH TLV® (2009) (as mineral oil, excluding metalworking fluids)

Pure, highly and severely refined:
5 mg/m3 TWA (inhalable particulate matter)

HE10 -- decreased pulmonary function
HE15 -- upper respiratory tract irritation, dermatitis
Poorly and mildly refined:
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 PELs 5 mg/m3 TWA (particulate)
HE10 -- decreased pulmonary function
HE15 -- upper respiratory tract irritation, dermatitis

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 2,500 mg/m3

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  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).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Mineral Oil, Excluding Metal Working Fluids. 2016.
  • 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

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