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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Occupational Exposure to Lead (November 1978)
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Introduction



The statement of reasons accompanying this regulation (the preamble) is divided into six parts, numbered I. through VI. The following table sets forth the contents of the preamble:

I.   Introduction.
II.  Pertinent legal authority.
III. Executive summary:
  A. Health effects of lead exposure.
  B. Permissible exposure limit.
  C. Medical removal protection.
  D. Feasibility of compliance.
IV.  Explanation of the standard.
V.   Authority and signature.
VI.  Attachments:
  A. Health effects of lead exposure.
  B. Permissible exposure limit.
  C. Medical removal protection.
  D. Feasibility.

Part VI of the preamble is divided into four attachments (A-D) (to be published separately in the Federal Register on or about November 21, 1978) which provide a detailed, complex, and technical discussion of the evidence and OSHA's conclusions on most of the major issues raised in the rulemaking. Part III is a brief, non-technical summary of these attachments and is intended for the reader who wishes to understand the basis for OSHA's conclusions in this standard without having to examine the more technical attachments.

Part IV is a provision-by-provision discussion of the regulation in lettered paragraphs corresponding to the lettered paragraphs of the regulation. It provides a brief summary of each provision and the evidence and rational supporting it. This is followed by part V, which in turn is followed by the regulation and its appendices. References to the rulemaking record in the text of the preamble are in parenthesis, and the following abbreviations have been used:

  1. Ex.:  Exhibit number.
  2. Tr.:  Transcript page number.
  3. Ref.: Reference number.
  4. Att.: Attachment number or letter.
  5. App.: Appendix number or letter.

This permanent occupational safety and health standard is issued pursuant to sections 6(b) and 8(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) (84 Stat. 1593, 1599, 29 U.S.C. 655, 657), the Secretary of Labor's Order No. 8-76 (41 FR 25059) and 29 CFR Part 1911. It amends Part 1910 of 29 CFR by adding a new 1910.1025, entitled "Lead," and by deleting the reference to "lead and its inorganic compounds" in Table Z-2 of 29 CFR 1910.1000. The standard applies to employment in all industries covered by the Act except construction and agriculture.

Pursuant to section 4(b)(2) of the Act, OSHA has determined that this standard is more effective than the corresponding standards now applicable to the maritime industries currently contained in Subpart B of Part 1910, and Parts 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918 of Title 29, CFR. Therefore, those corresponding standards are superseded by the new lead standard in 1910.1025. A new paragraph (g) is added to 1910.19 to clarify the applicability of this new lead standard to the maritime industries.


Lead (Pb) occurs naturally in the Earth's crust and is also found in the atmosphere and hydrosphere. It has been used for thousands of years because of its availability and desirable properties. Even in early times, there was recognition of health hazards associated with its use, both as a metal or in a compound form. Thus it was found that lead could be absorbed by inhalation and ingestion and that lead absorption was responsible for loss of movement in printers' fingers exposed to heated lead type and for "dry grippes" in pottery and glass workers.

By the early 20th century, studies revealed that the absorption of excessive quantities of lead (lead intoxication or plumbism) caused diseases of the kidney and peripheral and central nervous systems. For example, an analysis of death rates in the United Kingdom in 1921 (Ex. 5(1) and 1931 (Ex. 5(2)) showed a considerable excess of deaths due to nephritis and cerebrovascular disease in plumbers and painters.

In excess of 1 million tons of lead are consumed yearly by industries in the United States. Potential occupational exposure to lead and its compounds occur in at least 120 occupations, including lead smelting, the manufacture of lead storage batteries, the manufacture of lead pigments and products containing pigments, solder manufacture, shipbuilding and ship repairing, auto manufacturing, and printing.


Although the prevalence of lead intoxication in ancient times has been the subject of some speculation. It seems likely that there was a lack of appreciation of the hazards of lead and preventive methods of limiting exposure until recent times. Modern tests for estimating lead exposures, such as measurements of urinary and blood lead levels, urinary coproporphyrin and delta-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), have been generally used to establish acceptable air lead levels and thereby to control occupational lead intoxication. At one time, an airborne exposure limit value of 500 ug/m(3) was generally accepted. Based on a recommendation of the U.S. Public Health Service in 1933, however, a value of 150 ug/m(3) was a common goal in industry in the 1940's.

150 ug/m(3) continued to be the most often accepted until 1957, when the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) increased the value to 200 ug/m(3). In 1971, however, ACGIH recommended lowering this exposure limit back to 150 ug/m(3). (Ex. 5(3).) The present occupational safety and health standard for "lead and its inorganic compounds" is found in Table Z-2 of 29 CFR 1910.1000 and was adopted in 1971 pursuant to section 6(a)of the act. The permissible exposure limit which is 200 ug/m(3) as determined on the basis of an 8-hour time- weighted average, was based on a national consensus standard of the American National Standards Institute (Z37.11-1969). When the consensus standard was originally adopted, no rationale was provided for the level selected.

In January 1973, pursuant to section 22(d) of the Act, the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) submitted to the Secretary of Labor a criteria document for inorganic lead, which recommended, among other things, lowering the existing permissible exposure limit for lead from 200 ug/m(3) to 150 ug/m(3). (Ex. 1.) On August 4, 1975, the Director of NIOSH forwarded a letter to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health which revised the recommendations in the criteria document. In it, he recommended that the permissible exposure limit for airborne concentrations lead be reduced from 150 ug/m(3) to lower ranges. This letter followed a joint effort by the staffs of both OSHA and NIOSH to analyze and review scientific data not available or relied upon in the original criteria document and which resulted in a reevaluation of earlier recommendations.

On October 3, 1975, OSHA proposed a new occupational safety and health standard for occupational exposure to lead (40 FR 45934)(Ex. 2). The proposal included a permissible exposure limit of 100 ug/m(3) combined with provisions for environmental monitoring, medical surveillance, employee training and other protective measures. The notice requested submission of written comments, data, and opinions.

In a notice published on January 4, 1977 (42 FR 808)(Ex. 21), OSHA announced the availability of the preliminary technological feasibility and economic impact statements prepared by John Short Associates. It also gave notice that an informal hearing would begin in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 1977. On February 15, 1977 (42 FR 9190). (Ex. 25) notice was given that the final economic impact statement was available to the public and that the economic impact had been certified pursuant to Executive Order 11821.

In publishing the proposal, OSHA noted its intention to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the effect of the proposed standard on the human environment. Interested parties were invited to submit comments that would be useful in preparing a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement. On February 25, 1977, the availability of OSHA's draft for the Environmental Impact Statement on the Proposed Lead standard was announced by the Council on Environmental Quality (42 FR 11036) (Ex. 30).

In a FEDERAL REGISTER notice on March 8, 1977, OSHA announced that in addition to the March 15, 1977 hearing in Washington, D.C., two regional hearings would be held (42 FR 13025). The first regional hearing began on April 26, 1977, in St. Louis, Mo., and the second regional hearing began on May 3, 1977, in San Francisco, Calif. During the hearing in Washington, D.C., which lasted 7 weeks, OSHA presented 15 expert witnesses from around the world to discuss various aspects of the proposal. In addition to witnesses invited by OSHA, NIOSH, and approximately 50 public participants testified. In St. Louis, 9 public parties testified; in San Francisco, 13.

The hearing record was reopened by OSHA on September 16, 1977, for the purpose of taking additional evidence on the issue of medical removal protection. A FEDERAL REGISTER notice was published giving notice that a hearing would be held on November 1, 1977 (42 FR 46547)(Ex. 353). A hearing was held (November 1 through 11, and December 22, 1977) and additional exhibits were added to the record including an OSHA-sponsored study on labor costs for implementation of medical removal protection (Ex. 439).

Final certification of the hearing record was completed on August 8, 1978, by Administrative Law Judges Julius J. Johnson and Garvin Lee Oliver.

[43 FR 52952, Nov. 14, 1978]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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