Cloth shop towels travel from industry to laundering facility many round trips happened from various work environments. What goes into those towels at one facility comes back to the laundering facility where they are comingled to be laundered. Water at the laundering facility is often recycled from load to load as well.
There has to be increased demand for safety measures taken by laundering facilities of shop towels. OSHA compliance is at times questionable at client locations. Workers aren’t likely to pre-sort towels for disposal from those that can be laundered and returned.
An exposure assessment made by Gradient was funded by Kimberly-Clark in 2013. This picked up on a prior study by Beyer in 2003. “In the prior analysis, as in this analysis, we estimated oral intake of metals in clean laundered shop towels (LSTs) for two potential exposure pathways: hand contact with LSTs and subsequent transfer to the mouth, and direct contact of LSTs with the lips.”
Companies are encouraged to provide hand-washing stations and gloves for workers.Attribution: Shop Towels and Exposure To Hazardous Materials