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Moving beyond the status quo: Hexavalent Chromium, a New Standard

Heather Carter Seal
Metals Analyst
QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Is it just me or does it seems like everyday looking around our world, we are finally taking much needed steps to move beyond our status quo? From the move to organic meat and produce, the way we power our homes or our cars, our attitudes toward tobacco…things, they are a-changing. And yet it seems as though we are moving reluctantly forward. Cigarettes have long been known to cause cancer but only in recent years have actions (read as lawsuits) by individuals and our government taken the necessary steps to move forward: providing incentive plans to those who want to quit, protecting our indoor air quality and thus our national health. In a similar way, with the threat to our economy and national security we are only now seriously and begrudgingly looking forward, beyond petroleum, for a way to power our automobiles. We are many years past the gasoline shortages of 1976, but the fuel economy of our cars and that increasingly common pain in our wallets is finally leading us to drive smaller more fuel efficient and even hybrid vehicles. This too is the story of hexavalent chromium exposure for workers all over our United States.…..

You can download the entire paper in .pdf format from the link below.

Hex Chrome White Paper

OSHA Issues Enforcement Procedures Directive for Hex Chrome Standards

OSHA has issued a new compliance directive for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). The directive, OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-074, Inspection Procedures for the Chromium (VI) Standards, was effective January 24, 2008.

“This new directive provides guidance for enforcement of the final rule on hexavalent chromium standards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. “OSHA anticipates these efforts will reduce the risks of exposure to Cr(VI), thereby improving the safety and health of employees affected by this hazard.”

The standards became effective on May 30, 2006. Employers with 20 or more employees were given six months from the effective date to comply with most of the provisions. Employers with less than 20 employees were allowed 12 months from the effective date to come into compliance with most of the provisions. All employers were given four years from the effective date to install feasible engineering controls.

The Cr(VI) standards, which were originally published in the Feb. 28, 2006, Federal Register, are applicable to general industry, construction, and shipyards (Sections 29 CFR 1910.1026, 29 CFR 1926.1126 and 29 CFR 1915.1026, respectively).

Highlights of the new Cr(VI) directive include procedures for reviewing an employer’s air sampling records to determine exposure levels; guidance on how employers can implement effective engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain exposure below approved permissible exposure limits; requirements for employers to provide hygiene areas to minimize employees’ exposure to Cr(VI); guidelines requiring employers to maintain exposure and medical surveillance records; and a requirement that CSHOs evaluate portland cement wherever it is being used.

The standards lower the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium to 5 micrograms of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Hexavalent chromium compounds are regularly used in the chemical industry in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis. Significant health effects associated with exposure to Cr(VI) are lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations, and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

To view a PDF of the directive, Click Here.