Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Phthalates in the Workplace Linked to Nerve and Balance Disorders
Phthalates, a family of compounds made from alcohols and phthalic anhydride, can cause nerve inflammation and balance problems in workers exposed to the substance. Phthalates are oily, colorless, odorless liquids that do not evaporate readily. Uses of phthalates include softeners of plastics, oily substances in perfumes, additives to hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers. Recent attention to phthalates stems from the concern about its use in baby bottles.
“Babies are especially susceptible to toxic materials and even low levels may be damaging,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP, of OccuSafe, Inc, “We must also address the question: What hazard does phthalates present to workers who make these baby bottles?”
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has long thought that diethyl phthalate is hazardous. They published a Threshold Limit Value of 5 milligrams per cubic meter during an eight-hour period, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) proposed the same standard in 1998. This standard is intended to protect workers against the significant risks of phthalate exposure.
“Although the OSHA standard was remanded by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the limits are not currently in force,” Ticker explains, “Adhering to the standard will prevent overexposure to this toxic compound.”
OccuSafe Environmental and Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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