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Carbon Black

General Description

Synonyms: Channel black; Lamp black; Furnace black; Thermal black; Acetylene black

OSHA IMIS code: 0527

CAS number: 1333-86-4

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • tared low ash polyvinyl chloride (LAPVC) filter, 5 microns, closed face
  • maximum volume: 960 L
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: gravimetric
  • method reference: OSHA ID-196 (partially validated)
  • notes: Submit as a separate sample. If the filter is not overloaded, samples may be collected up to an 8-hour period. If polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are suspected to be present, take and submit separate samples on glass fiber filters per OSHA Method 58.

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs

OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1

3.5 mg/m3 TWA HE10 -- accumulation of dust in pulmonary system
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
3.5 mg/m3 TWA HE10 -- accumulation of dust in pulmonary system
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000
3.5 mg/m3 TWA HE10 -- accumulation of dust in pulmonary system
NIOSH REL 3.5 mg/m3 TWA
See Appendix A and Appendix C
HE3 -- myocardial dystrophy
HE10 -- pulmonary fibrosis, pneumoconiosis
0.1 mg PAHs/m3 TWA (carbon black in the presence of PAHs)
See Appendix A and Appendix C
HE2 -- cancers associated with PAHs
ACGIH TLV® (2010) 3 mg/m3 (inhalable particulate matter) TWA
HE10 -- respiratory damage, causing bronchitis and decreased lung function
CAL/OSHA PELs 3.5 mg/m3 TWA  

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 1,750 mg/m3

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Carbon black is combustible, and some carbon blacks containing over 8% volatiles may pose an explosion hazard if finely dispersed (NIOSH/IPCS 2010).
  2. Based on the results from several epidemiological studies, no association between exposure to carbon black and lung cancer was found (ACGIH 2011).
  3. Three studies of female rats that inhaled carbon black and three additional studies of female rats exposed intratracheally found significant increases in the incidence of malignant lung tumors, providing sufficient evidence that carbon black can cause cancer in animals (Heinrich et al. 1995; Nikula et al. 1995; Driscoll et al. 1996). IARC (2010) noted that the human epidemiological evidence was inconsistent. Two of the three studies of carbon black production workers observed excess risk for lung cancer. The Working Group concluded that there was inadequate evidence from epidemiological studies to assess whether carbon black causes cancer in humans.
  4. Carbon black has been shown to be a known rat carcinogen (EPA 2003).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Carbon Black. 2016.
  • Driscoll, KE, Carter, JM, Howard, BW et al.: Pulmonary inflammatory, chemokine, and mutagenic responses in rats after subchronic inhalation of carbon black. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 136:372-380, 1996.
  • EPA: Integrated Risk Information SystemDiesel Exhaust. 2003.
  • Heinrich, U, Fuhst, R, Rittinghausen, S et al.: Chronic inhalation exposure of Wistar rats and two different strains of mice to diesel engine exhaust, carbon black, and titanium dioxide. Inhal Toxicol. 7:533-556, 1995.
  • IARC: Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans. Carbon Black. 2010.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Carbon Black. 1978.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Carbon Black.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsCarbon Black. May 7, 2010.
  • Nikula, KJ, Snipes, MB, Barr, EB et al.: Comparative pulmonary toxicities and carcinogenicities of chronically inhaled diesel exhaust and carbon black in F344 rats. Fundam Appl Toxicol. 25:80-94, 1995.

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