A new health hazard alert published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) includes cancer on the list of negative health effects that may be caused by exposure to the solvent 1-bromopropane (1-BP), which is used in degreasing, spray adhesives, aerosol solvents, and dry cleaning. The hazard alert cites scientific findings that 1-BP causes cancer in laboratory animals in explaining CDPH’s concerns that it may cause cancer in workers.
According to the alert, Cal/OSHA set its legal limit on how much 1-BP can be in the air that workers breathe before there was evidence showing that 1-BP may damage genes and cause cancer. The Cal/OSHA permissible exposure limit for 1-BP is 5 ppm as a time-weighted average. The PEL also carries a skin notation indicating that 1-BP can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream through workers’ skin.
The new hazard alert was developed by the Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS), a program in CDPH that works to prevent workplace illness and disease.
In addition to discussing the health effects that can be caused by exposure to 1-BP, the hazard alert provides a list of products that contain 1-BP and includes information on reducing exposure. CDPH’s recommendations include using safer products, enclosing work processes and using good ventilation, protecting workers’ skin, using respiratory protection, and other protective measures.
The alert is available as a PDF download. More information on HESIS is available on the CDPH website.
EPA’s draft risk assessment for 1-BP, which was published in February 2016, indicates health risks for workers with repeated and chronic exposures to the chemical, including neurotoxicity; kidney, liver, and reproductive toxicity; and lung cancer. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added 1-BP to the Report on Carcinogens, a congressionally mandated report that identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures that pose a hazard to people in the U.S. OSHA and NIOSH previously issued a joint hazard alert warning workers and employers of the dangers of occupational exposure to 1-BP in 2013.