Research shows metal exposure from shop towels may exceed permissible drinking water levels

March 19, 2012

Gradient, an environmental and risk science consulting firm, has released new data that shows metal exposure levels from use of laundered shop towels may exceed the permissible levels allowed in drinking water.

According to the research, manufacturing workers using a typical number of shop towels may be exposed to metals such as lead, chromium, cadmium, and antimony at levels many times higher than those allowed by the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) or, in the case of lead, the action level (AL) for drinking water as outlined in the U.S. EPA's Safe Drinking Water Act.

Freshly laundered shop towels have been shown to be contaminated with metal residues, which may transfer to the hand during common usage, and can migrate to the mouth and be ingested at levels which exceed those allowed in drinking water. In the case of lead, daily intake from shop towels may be up to 21 times higher than the intake that would be associated with the lead AL.

Commissioned by Kimberly-Clark Professional, the study was based on analysis of data from laundered shop towels submitted by 26 North American manufacturing companies to an independent testing lab.

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