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1979. OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE TO HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM (PREVENTING OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS: CHROMIUM)

Priority: Economically Significant. Major under 5 USC 801.

Legal Authority: 29 USC 655(b); 29 USC 657

CFR Citation: 29 CFR 1910

Legal Deadline: NPRM, Judicial, October 4, 2004.

Abstract: In July 1993, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was petitioned for an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for occupational exposures to hexavalent chromium (CrVI). The Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Unions (OCAW) and Public Citizen's Health Research Group (HRG) petitioned OSHA to promulgate an ETS to lower the PEL for CrVI compounds to 0.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) as an eight-hour, time-weighted average (TWA). The current PEL in general industry is a ceiling value of 100 ug/m3, measured as CrVI and reported as chromic anhydride (CrO3). The amount of CrVI in the anhydride compound equates to a PEL of PEL of 52 PEug/m3. The ceiling limit applies to all forms of CrVI, including chromic acid and chromates, lead chromate, and zinc chromate. The current PEL of CrVI in the construction industry is 100 ug/m3 as a TWA PEL, which also equates to a P52 ug/m3. After reviewing the petition,OSHA denied the request for an ETS and initiated a section 6(b)(5) rulemaking.

OSHA began collecting data and performing preliminary analyses relevant to occupational exposure to CrVI. However, in 1997, OSHA was sued by HRG for unreasonable delay in issuing a final CrVI standard. The 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in OSHA's favor and the Agency continued its data collection and analytic efforts on CrVI. In 2002, OSHA was sued again by HRG for continued unreasonable delay in issuing a final CrVI standard. In August, 2002 OSHA published a Request for Information on CrVI to solicit additional information on key issues related to controlling exposures to CrVI and on December 4, 2002, OSHA announced its intent to proceed with developing a proposed standard. On December 24, 2002, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of HRG and ordered the Agency to proceed expeditiously with a CrVI standard.

Statement of Need: Approximately one million workers are exposed to CrVI in general industry, maritime, construction, and agriculture. Industries or work processes that could be particularly affected by a standard for CrVI include: Electroplating, welding, painting, chromate production, chromate pigment production, ferrochromium production, iron and steel production, chromium catalyst production, and chromium dioxide and sulfate production. Exposure to CrVI has been shown to produce lung cancer, an often fataldisease, among workers exposed to CrVI compounds. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies CrVI compounds as a Group 1 Carcinogen: Agents considered to be carcinogenic in humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) have also designated CrVI compounds as known and confirmed human carcinogens, respectively. Similarly, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers CrVI compounds to be potential occupational carcinogens. OSHA's current standards for CrVI compounds, adopted in 1971, were established to protect against nasal irritation. Therefore, there is a need to revise the current standard to protect workers from lung cancer.

Summary of Legal Basis: The legal basis for the proposed rule is a preliminary determination that workers are exposed to a significant risk of lung cancer and dermatoses and that rulemaking is needed to substantially reduce the risk.

Alternatives: OSHA had considered non-regulatory approaches, including the dissemination of guidance on its web site. However, OSHA has determined that rulemaking is a necessary step to ensure that workers are protected from the hazards of CrVI and the Agency has been ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals to move forward with a final rule. The Agency is currently evaluating several options for the scope of the rulemaking.

Anticipated Cost and Benefits: The scope of the proposed rulemaking is still under development, and estimates of the costs and benefits are being developed.

Risks: A detailed risk analysis is in process.


Timetable:

Action Date FR Cite

Request for Information
Comment Period End
Initiate SBREFA Process
SBREFA Report
NPRM
08/22/02
11/20/02
12/23/03
04/20/04
10/00/04
67 FR 54389


Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes

Small Entities Affected: Businesses

Government Levels Affected: Undetermined

Agency Contact: Steven F. Witt, Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N-3718, FP Building, Washington, DC 20210
Phone: 202 693-1950
Fax: 202 693-1678

RIN: 1218-AB45

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