Workers may be exposed to toxic metals in shop towels

(NC) A peer-reviewed study conducted by Gradient, a nationally recognized environmental and risk sciences firm, shows that U.S. and Canadian manufacturing workers who use laundered shop towels may be exposed to lead and other metals. The study, published online in the October issue ofHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment, estimated worker exposure to 28 different metals, including lead, in laundered towels collected from 38 U.S. and 16 Canadian companies across a range of industries.

Because workers cannot see, smell or feel heavy metal contaminants on “clean” laundered shop towels, they may be unaware that the towels could contain elevated levels of toxic metals. Similar to many metal exposures, workers can transfer metals from their hands to their faces, and once heavy metals are on workers’ faces, they have the potential to be ingested.

To reduce the risk of ingestion, workers are advised to always wash their hands after handling a shop towel, especially before eating. They should also avoid wiping their hands or face with a shop towel, and never take them home for personal use. Solutions are available.

For example, Kimberly-Clark Professional, has developed a safe alternative called WypAll Wipers – and for further information on this issue, go to If you prefer an immediate discussion call (888) 346-4652, or follow @KCProf_NA on Twitter.
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