OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

APR 4 1990




SUBJECT: Letter to Diesel Fuel Manufacturers

In accordance with then Acting Assistant Secretary Alan C. McMillan's testimony before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health and Safety in August, 1989, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently mailed a letter to 240 diesel fuel manufacturers. This letter informs diesel fuel manufacturers of their obligation under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard to include information regarding the potential carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust on their diesel fuel material safety data sheets. A copy of this letter is attached for your information.


MAR 14 1990

Dear Diesel Fuel Manufacturer:

The purpose of this letter is to provide diesel manufacturers with information regarding the Hazard Communication Standard's (HCS) requirement to include the hazards of diesel fuel exhaust on material safety data sheets (MSDS) for diesel fuel. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hereby alerting you that under the HCS requirements, recent information regarding the potential carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust must be included on the diesel fuel MSDS.

The HCS requires manufacturers to perform a hazard determination for the chemicals they produce. As part of the evaluation, the manufacturer must anticipate the intended uses of the product, and consider the potential physical and health hazards to which employees may be exposed as a result of those uses. For health hazards, evidence which is statistically significant and which is based on at least one positive study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles, is a sufficient basis for a hazard determination and must be reported on the MSDS.

Diesel fuel exhaust is produced as a result of combustion, which is a normal condition of use for diesel fuel. Any health or physical hazards associated with the exhaust must therefore be included on the MSDS. In addition to respiratory irritation and reversible pulmonary effects of exposure to diesel exhaust, in August, 1988, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released Current Intelligence Bulletin 50, Carcinogenic Effects of Exposure to Diesel Exhaust, which summarizes recent studies on the potential carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust. NIOSH concluded in this bulletin that the toxicologic and epidemiologic findings suggest a "potential occupational carcinogenic hazard exists in human exposure to diesel exhaust." Under the HCS requirement to examine all relevant data when performing the hazard determination, these studies which indicate the potential carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust must be included as part of the overall evaluation and the carcinogenic hazards must be noted on the MSDS. Manufacturers, importers or employers may also report the results of other scientifically valid studies which tend to refute the findings of hazard. However, the positive data must always be reported.

Therefore, your diesel fuel MSDS must reflect the potential carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust. As with all OSHA standards, actions not consistent with the provisions of the HCS are subject to OSHA review and citation. The provisions of the HCS regarding updating MSDS to reflect new information require such data to have been added within 3 months after publication of the NIOSH CIB (which would have been by the end of November, 1988).

We hope this information is helpful to you in your efforts to provide safe and healthful workplaces in the United States. For further information regarding this notice, please feel free to contact the Hazard Communication Coordinator in the OSHA Regional Office closest to you.


Gerard F. Scannell Assistant Secretary