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Chemical and Physical Hazards Top Industry News Headlines

By Kay Bechtold

It’s been a busy month and a half with
tax season coming to an end and many people traveling for spring break. In case you’ve missed the recent news from the federal agencies that oversee occupational health and safety, here are some of the highlights. The topics below are ranked according to the number of clicks they received from readers of The Synergist Weekly e-newsletter.

Glyphosate. In early April, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published a new draft toxicological profile for glyphosate, the active ingredient in a variety of broad-spectrum herbicidal products for residential, commercial, and agricultural uses. Workers may be exposed to the chemical by inhalation, dermal contact, and ocular contact during the manufacture, transport, use, and disposal of glyphosate. There is no OSHA permissible exposure limit for glyphosate. In 2017, ACGIH added glyphosate to its “Under Study” list, which includes chemical substances and physical agents to be considered for Threshold Limit Values.

Hydrofluoric acid. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is urging EPA to review and update its 1993 study on hydrofluoric acid to determine whether existing risk management regulations for petroleum refineries are adequate to protect against catastrophic releases of HF. In a letter dated April 23, CSB explains that it has investigated two refinery incidents in the last four years where explosions elevated the threat of a possible release of HF or modified hydrofluoric acid.

Methylene chloride. In late March, EPA issued a final rule to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers for consumer use. The agency’s final rule states that EPA has determined that the use of the chemical in consumer paint- and coating-removal products presents “an unreasonable risk of injury to health due to acute human lethality.” The rule, which goes into effect on May 28, 2019, does not address commercial uses of methylene chloride.

Silica. On May 14, 2019, the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda Respiratory Health Cross-Sector Council will host a free webinar focused on working safely with natural and engineered stone products. Presenters will discuss how to control worker exposure to silica dust during countertop manufacturing, finishing, and installation. The webinar will also cover topics such as health problems caused by silica dust exposure, federal OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica rule requirements, and methods to protect employees from silica dust.

Illicit drugs. A video published in March by NIOSH is intended to help emergency responders understand the risks of exposure to illicit drugs and communicate what they can do to protect themselves on the job. The video includes real-life footage from a body camera worn by a police officer responding to an overdose call and shows what happens when an officer is exposed to illicit drugs such as fentanyl.

What do you think of these recent developments? Let us know in the comments!

Kay Bechtold is senior editor of The Synergist. ​


Air Sampling for glyphosate

Some researchers are sampling glyphosate using low volume PUF tubes (SKC 226-92) following EPA Method TO-10A. 
 on 5/1/2019 10:01 AM by Debbie Dietrich | Flag comment for inappropriate content

Thanks, Debbie!

Thank you for your comment, Debbie--I didn't know that. Thanks also for reading!
Kay BechtoldNo presence information on 5/1/2019 5:12 PM by Kay Bechtold | Flag comment for inappropriate content

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