Determinants of inhalable dust exposure in the European carbon black manufacturing industry

Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2001 Feb;16(2):237-45. doi: 10.1080/104732201460398.


A large study to investigate the respiratory health effects of occupational exposure to carbon black in the European carbon black manufacturing industry commenced in 1987. During the study, a large amount of personal occupational exposure data was collected. This article describes the empirical models used to study the determinants of inhalable dust exposure, using data from 16 factories collected in the third and last cross-sectional phase of this study. Information on activities during the measurements was collected using short job category-specific questionnaires. In addition, questionnaires were completed by factory representatives on the implementation of control measures and changes in production process since the first cross-sectional phase. Mixed effects analyses of variance models were used to identify determinants of exposure, while taking into account the within- and between-worker (random) variance components. The results of these models show that, for any job category, factory is a strong predictor of exposure in this industry. These differences could not be explained entirely by factors such as age of the factory or the control measures implemented since the first phase of the study. Surprisingly, implementation of local exhaust ventilation systems had an effect that was counterintuitive; for example, in warehouses where local exhaust ventilation systems had been implemented, higher dust exposure levels were found compared to those where such control measures had not been installed since the first cross-sectional survey. Season appeared to have some effect on exposure for some job titles, with generally relatively low exposures being found in the summer. Finally, a number of activities were identified that caused higher levels of dust exposure, most notably "changing of filters" and "clean-up of carbon black spills."

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Inhalation Exposure / prevention & control
  • Models, Statistical
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Risk Assessment / methods


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Carbon