Saturday, October 02, 2004

OSHA Issues Hex Chrome Proposal

Responding to a court order to propose a standard to protect workers against exposure to hexavalent chromium by October 4, OSHA will issue a proposal on October 4. Hexavalent Chromium has been shown to cause lung cancer. The court order was in response to a lawsuit filed in 2002 by Public Citizen and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union. The lawsuit claimed that OSHA was aware that its current exposure limit posed a cancer risk to workers, but has continually delayed any action. The groups have urged OSHA to lower the limit for more than a decade.

According to the press release:
OSHA is proposing to lower its permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium and for all CrVI compounds in construction, shipyards, and general industry from 52 to one microgram of CrVI per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time weighted average. The proposed rule also includes provisions for employee protection such as preferred methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, protective work clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

Hexavalent chromium (CrVI) compounds are widely used in the chemical industry in pigments, metal plating, and chemical synthesis as ingredients and catalysts. CrVI can also be produced when welding on stainless steel or CrVI-painted surfaces. The major health effects associated with exposure to CrVI include lung cancer, asthma, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations (or chrome holes), and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.
Written comments are due January 3 and hearings will start on February 3.

U.S. Appeals Court for the 3rd Circuit gives the agency until January 2006 to issue a final rule.

More on this next week when I get a chance to look at the proposal in the Federal Register.