Exposure to rubber fume and rubber process dust in the general rubber goods, tyre manufacturing and retread industries

Ann Occup Hyg. 2000 Aug;44(5):329-42.


This study assesses the current patterns and levels of exposure to rubber fume and rubber process dust in the British rubber industry and compares and contrasts the data obtained from the general rubber goods (GRG), retread tire (RT) and new tire (NT) sectors. A total of 179 rubber companies were visited and data were obtained from 52 general rubber goods, 29 retread tire and 7 new tire manufacturers. The survey was conducted using a questionnaire and included a walk-through inspection of the workplace to assess the extent of use of control measures and the nature of work practices being employed. The most recent (predominantly 1995-97) exposure monitoring data for rubber fume and rubber process dust were obtained from these companies; no additional sampling was conducted for the purpose of this study. In addition to the assessment of exposure data, evaluation of occupational hygiene reports for the quality of information and advice was also carried out.A comparison of the median exposures for processes showed that the order of exposure to rubber fume (E, in mg m(-3)) is: E(moulding) (0.40) approximately E(extrusion) (0.33)>E(milling) (0.18) for GRG; E(press) (0. 32)>E(extrusion) (0.19)>E(autoclave) (0.10) for RT; and E(press) (0. 22) approximately E(all other) (0.22) for NT. The order of exposure to rubber fume between sectors was E(GRG) (0.40)>E(RT) (0.32)>E(NT) (0.22). Median exposures to rubber process dust in the GRG was E(weighing) (4.2)>>E(mixing) (1.2) approximately E(milling) (0.8) approximately E(extrusion) (0.8) and no significant difference (P=0. 31) between GRG and NT sectors. The findings compare well with the study carried out in the Netherlands [Kromhout et al. (1994), Annals of Occupational Hygiene 38(1), 3-22], and it is suggested that the factors governing the significant differences noted between the three sectors relate principally to the production and task functions and also to the extent of controls employed. Evaluation of occupational hygiene reports indicated a number of shortcomings including lack of suitable and sufficient information with regard to sampling and analytical methods in use, poor sampling strategy, lack of appreciation regarding true rubber process dust, and a poor understanding of the principles of control for substances assigned maximum exposure limits.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Dust
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Rubber*
  • Workplace


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Rubber