Chemical Exposure Health Data Chemical Exposure Health Data

OSHA takes industrial hygiene samples as part of its compliance monitoring program. Many of these samples are submitted to the Salt Lake Technical Center for analysis. The following sampling results represent personal, area, and bulk samples for various airborne contaminants.

Personal sampling results represent the exposure to the individual who was actually wearing a sampling device. Area samples are taken in a fixed location and results may represent the potential risk from airborne contaminants or physical agents to workers in that area. Bulk samples were taken to verify if certain constituents are present and if so, in what concentration. Bulk samples are used individually or in conjunction with personal or area samples to help interpret the level of worker risk.

Please note that these results represent individual samplers that may be changed several times during the work shift. As a result, these values may not be directly comparable to levels listed in OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL).

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Background

For comparison against many occupational health standards, it is necessary to measure quantitative exposure levels in the workplace.
Depending on circumstances, there are various sampling technologies, procedures, and philosophies to measure airborne chemical concentrations to workers. Exposure assessment data can be compared to established standards to help determine if the exposure is acceptable.

An understanding of the relationship between the amount of a chemical present in the workplace and the biological response to that chemical is necessary to establish acceptable exposure levels. Established standards based on science, technology, and economics allow for the evaluation of worker exposure against an established and acceptable benchmark. The Department of Labor OSHA's chemical standards are called Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) and are enforceable under law. Many PELs were derived from national consensus standards and recognized Federal Standards. However, these standards must not be taken to represent an absolute boundary between the positively safe and the positively unsafe.

Common types of sampling include:

Integrated sampling
Uses technologies that provide integrated sampling over time. Note: samplers may be changed several times during a work shift which require additional statistical averaging. Integrated sampling results for an entire eight hour work shift yields an 8-hour time weighted average sample which can be compared directly to an 8-hour TWA standard. Integrated results may represent samples that were changed several times during the workshift and eventually combined into a cumulative time-weighted average. As a result, individual sample values may not be directly comparable to levels listed in OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL).

Direct reading or instantaneous sampling
Uses technologies that provide immediate results or short term integrated results and are used to compare airborne concentrations against ceiling or short-term standards.

Breathing zone sampling
Sample is obtained in the breathing zone of a specific worker.

Area sampling
Sample is obtained in an area representative of a process, a “worst case”, or multiple worker's exposure.

Bulk sampling
A bulk sample of a raw material or contaminant is taken to determine its chemical make-up. Bulk samples are used individually or in conjunction with personal or area samples to help interpret the level of worker risk.

Common types of occupational standards for acceptable exposure to chemicals in air include:

TWA - Time Weighted Average
Represents the allowable average chemical concentration in air for a given period of time. Historically a work shift has been eight hours per day and this is often expressed as the allowable 8-hour TWA.

C - Ceiling
Exposure to concentrations in excess of this value should not be permitted regardless of duration.

OSHA's data
OSHA takes industrial hygiene samples as part of its compliance monitoring program. OSHA's chemical exposure data represent personal, area, and bulk samples for various airborne contaminants.

OSHA compliance officers do not:

  • Routinely visit every business which use chemicals known to be toxic.
  • Take representative samples of every employee and every activity on every day.
  • Aways obtain a sample for an entire (8-hour) period or shift.

OSHA compliance officers do:

  • Target and visit certain industries based on National and regional emphasis programs.
  • Have limited time to conduct an inspection and cannot completely characterize all exposures for all employees, every day.
  • Use professional judgment and often attempt to evaluate worse case chemical exposure scenarios.
  • Develop a snapshot picture of potentially hazardous chemical exposures and use field evaluation tools to assess their significance: often comparing their measured airborne concentrations of chemicals against established standards.

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Dataset Field Definitions

The full data set is available in a downloadable XML file [ZIP 98.2MB]

Or downloadable by year:

2011 [ZIP 1.84MB] 2010 [ZIP 1.66MB] 2009 [ZIP 1.33MB] 2008 [ZIP 1.12MB] 2007 [ZIP 1.18MB] 2006 [ZIP 1.32MB]
2005 [ZIP 1.35MB] 2004 [ZIP 1.42MB] 2003 [ZIP 1.28MB] 2002 [ZIP 1.54MB] 2001 [ZIP 1.24MB] 2000 [ZIP 1.32MB]
1999 [ZIP 1.95MB] 1998 [ZIP 1.39MB] 1997 [ZIP 1.48MB] 1996 [ZIP 1.16MB] 1995 [ZIP 1.13MB] 1994 [ZIP 1.66MB]
1993 [ZIP 1.79MB] 1992 [ZIP 1.27MB] 1991 [ZIP 1.64MB] 1990 [ZIP 2.55MB] 1989 [ZIP 2.15MB] 1988 [ZIP 2.98MB]
1987 [ZIP 2.73MB] 1986 [ZIP 2.41MB] 1985 [ZIP 2.68MB] 1984 [ZIP 1.87MB]