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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Occupational Exposure to Formaldehyde
• Section: 9
• Title: Section 9 - IX. Technological Feasibility

IX. Technological Feasibility

The feasibility of a 0.75 ppm PEL was not explicitly addressed in the previous record. However, based upon previous contractors' reports and consistent with OSHA's analysis of compliance with the 1.0 ppm PEL, OSHA believes a 0.75 ppm PEL is technologically feasible.

In the 1987 RIA, OSHA judged that it was technologically feasible to achieve compliance with a 1.0 ppm PEL [Ex. 206, p. III-2]. To assure compliance with a 1.0 ppm PEL, OSHA estimated that those establishments with exposures above 1.0 ppm would lower average personal exposures to 75 percent of the required PEL, or 0.75 ppm(2). Those establishments with exposures below 1.0 ppm were judged to be unaffected by the new PEL [ex. 206, IV-1]. This analysis is consistent with the methodology in the 1986 Heiden report [Ex. 133], which assigned no costs of engineering controls to establishments with exposures below 1.0 ppm.

  Footnote(2) The assumption within the 1987 Regulatory Impact Analysis
that establishments previously above 1.0 ppm would be reduced to 0.75 ppm
in response to the 1.0 PEL was a conservative assumption in two respects.
First, as a technological matter, in a number of industries, the
engineering controls described were shown to be capable of lowering
exposures by a factor of 10 or more, in many cases to below 0.5 ppm [Ex.
128. p.6, 15; 1, Chap III], OSHA employed a generic assumption of 0.75 ppm
as the exposure level attainable by establishments after implementing
engineering controls.
  All exposures above 1.0 ppm were projected to drop to 0.75 ppm.
Targeting controls to achieve an effective 0.75 ppm limit provided a
critical buffer for unforeseen exposure problems that may arise. Thus, in
order to insure compliance with the 1.0 ppm PEL, exposures were projected
to drop to 0.75 ppm or lower.

In the 1987 RIA, OSHA indicated that for some foundries, complying with a PEL of 0.5 ppm would not be feasible [EX. 206, p. III-2]. The Agency's position was summarized in the Foundry section of the technological feasibility analysis: "OSHA therefore concludes that achieving a 0.5 ppm is not feasible by the use of engineering controls." However, OSHA believes that achieving a 0.75 ppm TWA in the foundry industry is technologically feasible. Evidence in the existing record indicates that the majority of foundry employees were exposed to formaldehyde levels of 0.5 ppm or less [Ex. 206, p. II-13, IV-55]. The introduction of engineering controls since the 1987 rule should have moved more employees below 0.75 ppm. OSHA has conducted 101 inspections and 94 exposure readings within the foundry industry since the standard took effect. These data indicate that the majority of foundries inspected had exposures below 0.75 ppm and therefore support the conclusion that a PEL of 0.75 ppm is technologically feasible [Ex. 301-1].

In this analysis, those establishments with pre-1987 exposures between 1.0 ppm and 0.75 ppm are assumed to lower their exposures to 75 percent of the new PEL, or 0.56 ppm. These establishments generally had fewer structural or process-inherent exposure problems than those establishments which had exposures above 1.0 ppm in 1987 [Ex. 206, p. IV-19,20,30,32,46,51,52,58,59,61]. Feasibility is not expected to be a problem for these establishments.

Four of the industries - textile finishing, apparel manufacturing, formaldehyde production and plastic molding - are estimated to have potential exposures in excess of 0.5 ppm, but below 1.0 ppm. Both the 1985 Heiden report [Ex. 77-19] and the 1981 Ashford report [Ex. 70-1], identified feasible strategies for reaching exposure levels below 1.0 ppm for these industry sectors.

In the preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis of July 1991, OSHA estimated 152 nitrogen fertilizer plants have exposures between 0.5 and 1.0 ppm. Since then, OSHA had obtained new data from both the Fertilizer Institute [Ex. L304-35] as well as from OSHA's IMIS database. These data indicate that current work practices have reduced employee exposure to below 0.1 ppm. Thus, the final standard should have no affect upon the nitrogenous fertilizer industry (SIC 2873).

[57 FR 22290, May 27, 1992]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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