Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OSHA Wants You - To Help Identify Top Chemicals of Concern

The Occupational Safety and Health Act - OSHA - is looking for input from stakeholders as they seek to update and set new Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).  Most of OSHA's PELs are old, and many wonder if the data on which they were based are sound.

PELs are "regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air."  They have been one of the primary mechanisms by which OSHA sets and enforces standards for "preventing occupational illnesses and injuries." 

By asking for input, OSHA is hoping to incorporate substantial advances in the science and our knowledge of chemical since PELs were first adopted decades ago. In particular there is concern that new methods of analyzing chemicals to very low levels and better understanding of more subtle effects has resulted in many of the PELs being set too high, i.e., they are no longer sufficiently protective of public health.

So, "as an initial step," OSHA wants to here from you, and me, and anyone with input so that they can identify the chemicals of most concern.  OSHA recommends that "when nominating a particular chemical, please include the criteria you used for selecting that chemical for nomination (e.g., the OSHA PEL is inadequate, there is widespread use of the chemical and potential worker exposure)."

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