As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — Sheri Farley walks with a limp. The only job she could hold would be one where she does not have to stand or sit longer than 20 minutes, otherwise pain screams down her spine and up her legs.

“Damaged goods,” Ms. Farley describes herself, recalling how she recently overheard a child whispering to her mother about whether the “crippled lady” was a meth addict.

For about five years, Ms. Farley, 45, stood alongside about a dozen other workers, spray gun in hand, gluing together foam cushions for chairs and couches sold under brand names like Broyhill, Ralph Lauren and Thomasville. Fumes from the glue formed a yellowish fog inside the plant, and Ms. Farley’s doctors say that breathing them in eventually ate away at her nerve endings, resulting in what she and her co-workers call “dead foot.”

A chemical she handled — known as n-propyl bromide, or nPB — is also used by tens of thousands of workers in auto body shops, dry cleaners and high-tech electronics manufacturing plants across the nation. Medical researchers, government officials and even chemical companies that once manufactured nPB have warned for over a decade that it causes neurological damage and infertility when inhaled at low levels over long periods, but its use has grown 15-fold in the past six years.

Such hazards demonstrate the difficulty, despite decades of effort, of ensuring that Americans can breathe clean air on the job. Even as worker after worker fell ill, records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that managers at Royale Comfort Seating, where Ms. Farley was employed, repeatedly exposed gluers to nPB levels that exceeded levels federal officials considered safe, failed to provide respirators and turned off fans meant to vent fumes. …

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Why Be Concerned about Hexavalent Chromium?

OSHA Compliance Requirements for Hexavalent Chromium (Hexavalent chrome, Chromium 6, Chromium VI) Effective May 31, 2010

Why be concerned about Chromium VI? Hexavalent chromium (Cr VI) is an IARC-1 human carcinogen. According to the EPA, “The best estimate of the excess risk of lung cancer from exposure to hexavalent chromium…is 8 cases of cancer in every 100 workers exposed.” -Environmental Protection Agency, Chromium VI (CASRN 18540-29-9). Other adverse health effects associated with Hexavalent chromium overexposure include irritation of the nose, throat, and lungs. Repeated or prolonged overexposure can damage the mucous membranes of the nasal passages and cause ulcers to form. In some cases the damage is so severe that the septum (the wall separating the nasal passages) develops a hole. Skin exposure to hexavalent chromium over prolonged periods can cause ulcers to form. Some workers develop an allergic sensitization to chromium. In sensitized workers, contact with even very tiny amounts can cause a serious skin rash. Exposure to Chrome 6 can also cause permanent eye damage in some cases.

Employees performing welding or thermal cutting tasks on chromium – containing metals are likely to be over-exposed to Hexavalent Chrome unless engineering controls and / or respiratory protection are used.

Only proven engineering controls (such as source capture air filtration from Gulftech Enterprises, Inc) can eliminate the need for the regulated areas. Filtration (rather than simple exhaust to the outside) allows re circulation of expensive conditioned air and reduces the size of the regulated area and reduces the number of affected employees.

There are generally three ways to maintain air quality:

– Dilution Ventilation (increased airflow in the welding area)

– Ambient air collection using dilution air and a dust or fume extraction device (ambient air cleaners can be mounted above the weld area to capture the weld fume).

– Source capture using a dust or fume extraction device (weld fume arms connected to either a portable fume extraction system or ducted to a dust collector).



Fume Back: Suction Off ; Suction On


New OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1026