Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: OSHA Substantially Reduces the Permissible Exposure Limit for Hexavalent Chromium Citing Lung Cancer Among Risks
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) has reduced the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium (CrVI) to 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
“Undoubtedly, OSHA’s new standard takes into account that workers who breathe hexavalent chromium may be at increased risk of developing lung cancer as well as a number of other ailments,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc.
In addition to lung cancer, high levels of hexavalent chromium may irritate or damage the nose, throat, and lungs. The eyes and skin are at risk if hexavalent chromium contacts these organs in high concentrations or for a prolonged period of time. Employees may become allergic to CrVI so that inhaling chromate compounds causes wheezing and shortness of breath. Employees may also develop skin allergies that cause swelling and a red, itchy rash that is long-lasting and more severe with repeated contact.
“We know that welders are exposed to hexavalent chromium, often at high levels, and air sampling should be conducted to monitor their exposure,” explains Ticker, “We also know that testing for hexavalent chromium requires a thorough understanding of this hazardous metal especially when testing employees who weld with stainless steel. These vital testing procedures ensure accurate data.”
If CrVI levels exceed OSHA’s new standards, then immediate action should be taken to reduce employee exposure. These actions include the use of respirators, substitution of materials, changes in employee work practices, and the implementation of controls such as increased ventilation.
OccuSafe Environmental and Safety Services, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the workplace. Our services include industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health, noise testing, ergonomics and training. OccuSafe serves a wide range of industries.
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