NO PROTECTION FOR FARMERS
29 U.S.C. 651 et seq. (1970)
Congress passed the Occupational and Safety Health Act to ensure worker and workplace safety.
Their Goal was to make sure employers provide their workers a place of employment free from
recognized hazards to safety and health, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise
levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions

[Sludge/Biosolids meets the definition of a biological weapon]

Biological weapons may expose people to bacteria, viruses, or toxins as fine airborne particles.  
Biological agents are infectious through one or more of the following mechanisms of exposure,
depending upon the particular type of agent: inhalation, with infection through respiratory mucosa
or lung tissues; ingestion; contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, or nasal tissues; or
penetration of the skin through open cuts (even very small cuts and abrasions of which employees
might be unaware).  Organic airborne particles share the same physical characteristics in air or on
surfaces as inorganic particles from hazardous dusts.  This has been demonstrated in military
research on biological weapons and in civilian research to control the spread of infection in

Report To Congress On Workers' Home Contamination Study Conducted Under The Workers'
Family Protection Act (29 U.S.C. 671A) ;
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-123 (September 1995)
The Workers' Family Protection Act, [29 U.S.C. 671a]) conducted this study of contamination of
workers' homes by substances carried home on workers' clothing or bodies was enacted on
October 26, 1992.

Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at high risk for fatal and
nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and
certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. Farming is one of the
few industries in which the families (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at
risk for injuries, illness, and death.         

The NIOSH Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance (FFHHS) project focuses on identifying
health risks to the American farm family. It was developed to respond to Congress's concern that
agricultural workers and their families experience a disproportionate share of disease and injury
associated with the chemical, biological, physical, ergonomic, and psychological hazards of

From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The approach to any potentially hazardous atmosphere, including biological hazards, must be
made with a plan that includes an assessment of hazard and exposure potential, respiratory
protection needs, entry conditions, exit routes, and decontamination strategies.  Any plan involving
a biological hazard should be based on relevant infectious disease or biological safety
recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other expert
bodies including emergency first responders, law enforcement, and public health officials.  The
need for decontamination and for treatment of all first responders with antibiotics or other
medications should be decided in consultation with local public health authorities          

                    TRANSPORTATION of sludge/Biosolids -- disposal or agricultural product


Agricultural product means a hazardous material, other than a  hazardous waste, whose end use
directly supports the production of an  agricultural commodity including, but not limited to a
fertilizer,  pesticide, soil amendment or fuel. An agricultural product is limited to  a material in Class
3, 8 or 9, Division 2.1, 2.2, 5.1, or 6.1, or an  ORM-D material.

ACT (29 U.S.C. 671A)



Executive Summary below.
Full text in PDF format is available as 95-123.pdf (308 pages, 10,209K).


In 1992, the U.S. Congress passed the Workers' Family Protection Act (Public Law 102-522, 29
U.S.C. 671), which requested that the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety And Health
(NIOSH) conduct a study to "evaluate the potential for, prevalence of, and issues related to the
contamination of workers' homes with hazardous chemicals and substances...transported from the
workplaces of such workers." With this request, Congress identified a compelling public health
issue, bridging health concerns in the workplace and the home. NIOSH found that contamination of
workers' homes is a worldwide problem, with incidents reported from 28 countries and from 36
States in the United States. Such incidents have resulted in a wide range of diseases and, in some
cases, death among workers' families.

This report represents an important step in addressing the concerns outlined in the Act. It puts us
on the road to preventing the exposure of families to potentially harmful substances unknowingly
brought home from the job. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of occupational safety
and health research to CDC's overall mission of promoting health and quality of life by preventing
and controlling disease, injury, and disability.

David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention

The legislative directive (Public Law 102-522, Section 209, the Workers' Family Protection Act, [29
U.S.C. 671a]) to conduct this study of contamination of workers' homes by substances carried
home on workers' clothing or bodies was enacted on October 26, 1992. However, this is not a new
problem. Holt [1923] cited two early studies of lead-workers' families that were published in 1860
and 1896. Oliver [1914] reported on lead poisoning in wives of house painters who washed their
husbands' overalls, observations that resulted in a series of laws in Great Britain to protect the
workers' families from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning continues to be a problem; this report cites
about 65 incidents of lead poisoning among workers' families. Of these, 35 are from the United
States, 24 of which were reported in the last 10 years.

Lehmann [1905] reported that the mother and child of a worker exposed to chlorinated
hydrocarbons developed chloracne (a condition similar to acne caused by certain chlorinated
chemicals) ascribed to the worker's contaminated clothing. Lehmann also wrote of a laundress who
developed chloracne as a result of washing the contaminated clothing of workers. Thirty years after
Lehmann's report was published in Germany, a similar case was reported by Fulton and Matthews
[1936] from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In this case a child's father who
was exposed to hexachloronaphthalene and chlorodiphenyl wore his soiled clothing home from
work. Additional cases of workers' homes being contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons have
been reported in the last 10 years.

Prior to 1960, beryllium, toxaphene, mercury vapors, and diethylstilbestrol were also identified as
hazards to the families of workers. In the last 10 years, 10 additional chemical substances have
been identified in incidents of workers' home contamination, as well as allergens, radioactive
materials, and infectious agents.

This report to Congress and the Workers' Family Protection Task Force summarizes the incidents
of home contamination this study has discovered, including the health consequences, the sources,
and the levels of contamination. The report contains information on the effectiveness of preventive
measures and of decontamination procedures that have been used or studied. The report
summarizes the relevant laws and regulations and responses of Federal and State agencies and
industry to incidents of workers' home contamination.

The report should be useful not only to Congress and the Workers' Family Protection Task Force
in deciding future actions, but also to all who have responsibilities and concern for protecting
workers and their families from preventable illnesses.

Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health

The Workers' Family Protection Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-522, [29 U.S.C. 671a]) directed the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a study of contamination
of workers' homes with hazardous chemicals and substances (including infectious agents)
transported from the workplace. NIOSH found that contamination of workers' homes is a
worldwideproblem; incidents have been reported from 28 countries and from 36 States in the
United States. Such incidents have resulted in a wide range of health effects and death among
workers' families exposed to toxic substances and infectious agents. About half of the reports of
health effects have appeared in the last 10 years, revealing new sources of contamination.

In completing the study, NIOSH solicited information from Federal and State health, labor, and
environmental agencies, groups with special circumstances such as firefighters, and the public.
NIOSH then reviewed and compiled the information received along with information in published
reports on contamination of workers' homes by substances brought home from the workplace. The
report includes a survey of reported health effects, information on sources and levels of
contamination, preventive measures, decontamination procedures, a review of Federal and State
laws, and responses of agencies and industry to incidents involving contamination of workers'
homes. This report is being considered by the Workers' Family Protection Task Force, which is
charged under the Workers' Family Protection Act with evaluating the need for additional research.

Health Effects of Workers' Home Contamination

Workers can inadvertently carry hazardous materials home from work on their clothes, skin,
hair,tools, and in their vehicles. As a result, families of these workers have been exposed to
hazardous substances and have developed various health effects. Health effects have also
occurred when the home and the workplace are not distinct--such as on farms or in homes that
involve cottage industries. For some contaminants, there are other potential sources of home
contamination such as air and water pollution and deteriorating lead paint in the home. Only a few
of the studies found in the literature used epidemiologic methods to estimate the relative risks of
health effects from the contaminant transported home by the worker independent of health risks
due to other sources of the contaminant in the home.

Little is known of the full range of health effects or the extent to which they occur as a result of
workers' home contamination. There are no information systems to enable tracking of illnesses and
health conditions resulting from these circumstances. Many of the health effects among workers'
family members described below were recognized because of their uniqueness their clear
relationship to workplace contaminants, or their serious nature.

Chronic beryllium disease
This potentially fatal lung disease has occurred in families of workers exposed to beryllium in the
nuclear and aviation industries and workplaces involved in the production of beryllium and
fluorescent lights and gyroscopes.

Asbestosis and mesothelioma
Fatal lung diseases have occurred among family members of workers engaged in the manufacture
of many products containing asbestos, including thermal insulation materials, asbestos cement,
automobile mufflers, shingles, textiles, gas masks, floor tiles, boilers, ovens, and brakeshoes and
other friction products for automobiles. Families have also been exposed to asbestos when workers
were engaged in mining, shipbuilding, insulating (e.g., pipe laggers and railway workers),
maintenance and repair of boilers and vehicles, and asbestos removal operations.

Lead poisoning, neurological effects, and mental retardation
These health effects have occurred in children of workers engaged in mining, smelting,
construction, manufacturing (pottery, ceramics, stained glass, ceramic tiles, electrical components,
bullets, and lead batteries), repair and reclamation of lead batteries, repair of radiators, recovery of
gold and silver, work on firing ranges, and welding, painting, and splicing of cables.

Deaths and neurological effects from pesticides
Farm families and families of other workers exposed to pesticides have suffered these serious

Chemical burns from caustic substances
Chemical burns of the mouth and esophagus and fatalities from ingesting caustic substances have
occurred in farm families when hazardous substances were improperly used and stored on farms.

Chloracne and other effects from chlorinated hydrocarbons
Family members have been exposed when these substances were transported home on clothing of
workers manufacturing or using these compounds in the production of insulated wire, plastic
products, ion exchange resins, and textiles. Family members have been similarly exposed when
workers' clothes became contaminated during marine electrical work, transformer maintenance,
municipal sewage treatment, rail transportation, wood treatment, and application of herbicides.

Neurological effects from mercury
Family members have developed various neurological effects as a result of being exposed to
mercury carried home on clothing of workers engaged in mining, thermometer manufacture, and
cottage-industry gold extraction.

Abnormal development from estrogenic substances
Enlarged breasts have occurred in boys and girls and premature menstruation has occurred in
girls from estrogenic substances brought home on contaminated clothing of pharmaceutical and
farm workers

Asthmatic and allergic reactions from dusts
Farm families and others have suffered asthmatic and other allergic effects from animal allergens,
mushrooms, grain dust, and platinum salts.

Liver angiosarcoma from arsenic
Families of workers engaged in mining, smelting, and wood treatment have been exposed to
arsenic from contaminated skin and clothing; one child developed liver angiosarcoma.

Dermatitis from fibrous glass
Family members have developed dermatitis when their clothing was contaminated with fibrous glass
during laundering of insulation workers' clothing.

Status epilepticus from chemical exposure
A child experienced epileptic seizures following ingestion of an explosive compound brought home
on the clothing of a worker engaged in the manufacture of explosives.

Diseases from infectious agents
Family members have contracted infectious diseases such as scabies and Q fever from agents
brought home on contaminated clothing and skin of workers engaged in agriculture, hospital, and
laboratory work. As intended by Congress, infectious agents are included as hazardous
substances to the extent that pathogens can be transported on a worker's person or clothing.
Measures for Preventing Home Contamination

Preventive measures that were found to be effective when used the workplace include:

Reducing exposures in the workplace;
Changing clothes before going home and leaving the soiled clothing at work to be laundered by the
Storing street clothes in separate areas of the workplace to prevent their contamination;
Showering before leaving work; and
Prohibiting removal of toxic substances or contaminated items from the workplace.
Preventive measures that have been used successfully at home include:

Separating work areas of cottage industries from living areas;
Properly storing and disposing of toxic substances on farms and in cottage industries;
Preventing family members from visiting the workplace;
Laundering contaminated clothing separately from family laundry when it is necessary to launder
contaminated clothing at home; and Informing workers of the risk to family members and of
preventive measures.

Other preventive measures that need to be used include:

Educating physicians and other health professionals to inquire about potential work-related causes
of disease;
Developing surveillance programs to track health effects that could be related to home
contamination; and
Educating children, parents, and teachers about the effects of toxic substances.

Procedures for Decontaminating Homes and Clothing

Decontamination procedures include air showers, laundering, airing, vacuuming and other methods
of surface cleaning, and destruction and disposal of contaminated items. These procedures
appear to have widely varying effectiveness, depending on the specific methods employed, the
contaminants, and the surfaces. In general, hard surfaces can be far more easily decontaminated
than clothes, carpets, and soft furniture. In most cases effective decontamination requires relatively
intensive methods. Normal house cleaning and laundry practices appear to be inadequate for
decontaminating workers' clothes and homes. Lead, asbestos, pesticides, and beryllium
contamination can be especially persistent. In some instances even intensive decontamination
procedures may be ineffective.

Another serious concern is that decontamination methods can increase the hazard to the person
performing the operation and to others in the household. Home laundering of contaminated
clothing exposes the launderer. Vacuuming of floors contaminated with mercury can substantially
increase air concentrations, and vacuuming of carpets contaminated with lead can increase lead
concentrations on the carpet surface.

The difficulty of decontaminating work clothing, the prominence of clothing as a source of home
contamination, and the potential exposure of the launderer are problems that can be avoided
through the use of disposable work clothing. The use, availability, and cost of this alternative need
to be assessed.

Federal and State Laws

Seven statutes provide Federal agencies with some mechanisms for responding to or preventing
workers' home contamination. Twenty rules or standards in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
address workers' home contamination or have elements that serve to protect workers' families.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-596), NIOSH research
assessing the health of workers has also addressed the exposure of their families to workplace
contaminants, resulting in recommendations to prevent home contamination. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and actions intended to protect workers also
help assure that families are protected. In addition, OSHA can promulgate standards to protect
workers' family members when workers are required to live in housing provided by the employer as
a condition of employment. Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Public Law
95-164), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has limited regulatory authority to
address issues of workers' home contamination.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has broad authority under the Toxic Substances
Control Act (Public Law 94-469) to regulate chemicals and to obtain information about the adverse
effects of chemicals. In addition, EPA has specific authority and responsibility regarding the use of
asbestos and lead. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (Public Law
92-516), EPA also regulates the use and disposal of pesticides (which also helps to protect
workers' families). EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) are
authorized under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-499)
to address hazardous waste and releases of hazardous substances that may relate to identifying
contamination of workers' homes and assuring decontamination.

Thirty States and Puerto Rico responded to the requests from NIOSH for information about State
laws. Most indicated that there were no laws specific to workers' home contamination or protection
of workers' family members. Some States identified laws requiring the reporting of cases of
elevated blood lead levels and pesticide poisonings to a State agency; other States identified laws
related to work at hazardous waste sites and emergency responses to releases of hazardous
substances. An examination of occupational safety and health regulations of States with
OSHA-approved occupational safety and health programs revealed none more stringent than
Federal OSHA regulations - with respect to the protection of workers' families. However, extension
of occupational safety and health regulations to State and local government employees in these
States also helps protect the families of public employees' in these States.

Responses to Incidents of Workers' Home Contamination

Several Federal agencies have responded to incidents of workers' home contamination, often
working together with State or local government agencies. These responses have resulted in
identification of workers' home contamination, decontamination of workers' homes, and
recommendations for instituting workplace changes that would prevent further contamination.
NIOSH has conducted approximately 40 health hazard evaluations that address potential home
contamination. In several cases, Federal agencies have referred incidents to State or local health
departments for follow-up actions.

State agencies have investigated incidents of workers' home contamination, made referrals to
Federal agencies for follow-up actions, and recommended workplace improvements to prevent
further contamination of workers' homes.

Responses to incidents of workers' home contamination include educational materials such as
those of the Lead Industries Association, Inc. on preventing workers' home contamination as well
as responses of various employers to specific incidents of home contamination.

Limitations of the Report

The health information available for the report, which includes incidents of illness and home
contamination obtained from public agencies and published literature, does not provide a basis for
estimating the prevalence of this public health problem.

The Workers' Family Protection Act requires NIOSH to evaluate relevant information about indoor
air quality as it relates to workers' home contamination and to study the special circumstances of
firefighters as they relate to contamination of their homes.

The only report found on indoor air quality applicable to workers' family protection involved
tetrachloroethylene exposures in living quarters located in the same building as dry-cleaning
establishments. Indoor air quality studies would be useful to protect family members in cottage

Incidents of contamination of firefighters' homes were not identified. However, NIOSH has
conducted several studies of contamination and decontamination of protective clothing used by
firefighters. These studies are reviewed in this report and NIOSH will continue to pursue the issues
related to potential contamination of firefighters' homes.

Other limitations of the report include:

Little research has documented the frequency and distribution of health effects among the families
of workers in various industries and occupations. NIOSH is undertaking one study addressing lead
exposure among families of bridge repair workers.

Lead and pesticides are the only contaminants for which monitoring or reporting programs help to
identify and prevent cases of poisoning from workers' home contamination.

Despite various case reports, the prevalence of health effects from workers' home contamination is
not known because there are no surveillance systems in place for tracking or monitoring such
health conditions.

Many diseases have long latency periods between exposure and manifestation of the disease,
making identification and intervention difficult.

The workplace origin of many common diseases that occur in workers' families (such as asthma,
dermatitis, and infectious diseases) is probably unrecognized because physicians and other health
professionals fail to inquire about the occupation of family members and to consider whether these
diseases are work-related.

The literature reviewed in this report contained only nominal information about contamination levels
in workers' homes. Most measurements were of surface dust, for which there are no guidelines for
acceptable levels of contamination.

Recommendations for Research and Education

The prevalence of health effects of contaminants transported from the workplace should be
determined. One possible approach would be to conduct surveys among occupational and
environmental medicine health care providers and clinics.

The employment practices and controls that work best in preventing the transport of contaminants
from the workplace to the home should be identified.

Educational programs to prevent home contamination should be developed for employers, workers,
children, teachers, and parents, physicians, and other health professionals.

The special needs and problems of individuals who work in home or cottage industries need to be


Workers' home contamination may pose a serious public health problem. Health effects and deaths
from contaminants brought home from the workplace have been reported in 28 countries and 36

The extent to which these health effects occur is not known because there are no information
systems to track them, and physicians do not always recognize the occupational contribution to
various common diseases.

About half of the reports of health effects from home contamination are less than 10 years old. The
literature on the health effects involved approximately 30 different substances or agents. The
potential exists for many of the thousands of other chemicals used in commerce to be transported
to workers' homes or to be used in home-centered businesses.

Health effects and deaths from contaminants brought home from the workplace are preventable
using known effective measures. Educational programs are needed to promote their use.

Normal house cleaning and laundry practices are often inadequate for decontaminating workers'
homes and clothing and can increase the hazard to the person performing the tasks and others in
the household.

Only two Federal laws have elements that directly address workers' home contamination. However,
other laws provide agencies with certain mechanisms for responding to, or preventing workers'
home contamination. Operating under existing laws OSHA, MSHA, DOE, ATSDR, EPA, and CDC,
including NIOSH and the National Center for Environmental Health have responded to incidents of
workers' home contamination, made recommendations to prevent such incidents, and conducted
relevant research.