April 13, 2023

European Agency to Assess Potential Exposure Limits for 1,3-Butadiene, Bisphenol A

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which works to implement the European Union’s chemicals legislation to protect human health and the environment, seeks information related to the substances 1,3-butadiene and 4,4-isopropylidenediphenol, also known as bisphenol A. 1,3-Butadiene is classified as a carcinogen and mutagen, and bisphenol A is classified as a reprotoxic substance, according to the agency. The European Commission has tasked ECHA with evaluating exposure to these substances to assess and revise the option of airborne occupational exposure limits, other limit values such as biological limit values and biological guidance values, and notations.

OSHA says 1,3-butadiene is produced through the processing of petroleum, and NIOSH describes it as a “colorless gas with a mild aromatic or gasoline-like odor.” OSHA’s permissible exposure limit for the substance is 1 part 1,3-butadiene per million parts of air measured as an eight-hour time-weighted average, and its short-term exposure limit is 5 ppm as determined over a sampling period of 15 minutes.

Bisphenol A is primarily used in making polycarbonate plastic and some epoxy resins, according to a NIOSH Science Blog post. A NIOSH skin notation profile of bisphenol A published in 2011 explains that the substance is “potentially capable of causing adverse health effects following skin contact” and assigns it a skin notation of SK: SEN, with critical effects including skin allergy and photoallergy. While OSHA and NIOSH have not established exposure limits for bisphenol A, NIOSH encourages employers to minimize workers’ exposure to the substance using the hierarchy of controls.

ECHA intends to use the information it gathers on uses, exposure, health effects, toxicology, epidemiology, and modes of action of 1,3-butadiene and bisphenol A to help the agency prepare reports to support regulatory initiatives related to OELs for these substances in the workplace. ECHA’s calls for evidence provide stakeholders an opportunity to convey their views and concerns while the agency is in the early phases of developing its reports for 1,3-butadiene and bisphenol A. The deadline for comments is June 15.