August 29, 2023 / Kay Bechtold

The Monthly Weekly: Lead, Asbestos, and Other Familiar Hazards

Editor's note:The Monthly Weekly is an occasional feature that reviews the previous month's news coverage from The Synergist Weekly newsletter.

Lead and asbestos—hazards well known to industrial hygienists—are among the topics of the most-viewed news articles from The Synergist Weekly over the past month. The articles discuss an EPA proposal related to its dust-lead hazard standards and dust-lead clearance levels, as well as a paper describing the agency's intended approach to quantify asbestos hazards during the second part of its risk evaluation for the mineral.

Other familiar chemical and material hazards like silica and hydrogen chloride have also been a focus of agencies and organizations, including Cal/OSHA, the European Commission, NIOSH, and the International Labor Organization. Here, SynergistNOW summarizes news coverage of recent efforts to address concerns associated with these hazards.

Asbestos. A paper released this month by EPA for public comment and peer review describes the quantitative approach for human health assessment that the agency intends to apply during the second part of its risk evaluation for asbestos, which will focus on all fiber types and legacy uses of asbestos.

Lead. In July, EPA announced a proposed rule that would lower its dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL). Risk assessors use the DLHS to determine whether dust-lead hazards are present in homes and childcare facilities built before lead paint was banned in 1978. The DLCL are used to determine the effectiveness of abatement activities.

Silica. Also in July, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board granted the petition of a medical association for Cal/OSHA to develop an emergency temporary standard to address increasing cases of advanced silicosis among workers in engineered stone fabrication shops.

Formaldehyde. New measures adopted last month by the European Commission establish maximum emission limits for formaldehyde in consumer products. The rules, which are intended to reduce adverse health effects related to formaldehyde exposure, set an emission limit of 0.062 mg/m3 of formaldehyde into indoor air from wood-based products and furniture.

Hydrogen chloride. A draft IDLH (immediately dangerous to life or health) value profile for the chemical hydrogen chloride (HCl), which is used in a range of industrial processes, is available from NIOSH for technical review and public comment. The draft profile summarizes the technical data associated with acute inhalation exposures to HCl.

Occupational chemical use. A new report from the International Labor Organization explores the links between occupational chemical use, climate change, and worker health and safety. Based on recent research, the report shows how chemicals both contribute to and worsen the effects of climate change, resulting in increased risk of hazardous occupational exposures.

The latest industry news from The Synergist is available on AIHA's website and in The Synergist Weekly e-newsletter, delivered to members every Thursday. Please share feedback about our news coverage in the comments below or email The Synergist.

Related Reading

The Synergist: "Asbestos and Cancer Burden" (November 2022).

The Synergist: "Ill Wind: Climate Change and Industrial Hygiene" (November 2015).

The Synergist: "Silica Overexposures Among Stone Workers" (August 2022).

SynergistNOW: "Engineered Stone, Silica, and the Precautionary Principle" (May 2023).

Kay Bechtold

Kay Bechtold is the managing editor at The Synergist.


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