Mitigating Exposure to Volatile Compounds



Marja Pitkänen, Senior Scientist, M.Sc., Analytical Chemistry; Tuula Kajolinna, Research Scientist, M.Eng., Chemistry and Management; Ville Hinkka, Senior Scientist, D.Sc., Logistics, and Harri Pyykkö, Research Scientist, M.Sc., Logistics, the VTT Technical Research Centre, Finland


To protect transported freight and inhibit the spread of foreign species, containers are always fumigated with chemicals and many of these are also dangerous to humans. Often, warning labels and proper documents regarding fumigant treatment are missing from containers, and based on recent inside air studies, freight containers may also contain concentrations of volatile compounds evaporated from cargo such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. These may originate from adhesives, paints or raw materials.

This article presents the study conducted by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on the potential exposure of workers to harmful volatile compounds existing inside of freight containers and imported goods packages. The first part of the study focused on examining the ventilation of freight containers and its duration in different kinds of circumstances. These included type of loading, with or without mechanical exhaust ventilation, and testing at various different temperatures.

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