Hexavalent Chromium Standards
The standard was created to reduce health risks associated with exposure to Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI). Although OSHA has been aware of the risks of Hexavalent Chromium for many years the final standard (OSHA 1910.134) was published on February 28, 2006, outlining the “permissible exposure limit” for Hexavalent Chromium (VI). The new exposure limit (PEL) is 5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) on an 8-hour time-weighted average. There are three sub-standards broken into various industrial groups in which OSHA will be regulating:
- General Industry 29 CFR 1910.1026
- Shipyards 29 CFR 1915.1026
- Construction 29 CFR 1926.1126
Each of the industry standards is similar, with the exception of the General Industry which entails additional housekeeping regulations. The standard will be fully implemented by May 31, 2010. Those industries exposed to Hexavalent Chromium need to have engineering controls in place to reduce employee exposure, and comply with the new standard. OSHA 1910.134 differs from the previous standard as the permissible exposure limit (PEL) has been reduced to one-tenth of the previous PEL.
According to OSHA workers who have been exposed to Hexavalent Chromium compounds over an increased period of time have a greater chance of developing lung cancer. Inhalation of Hexavalent Chromium can cause severe damage and irritation to the nose, throat, and lungs. Through contact of the skin and eyes, Hexavalent Chromium can irritate or cause damage to these organs if workers are prolonged to high concentrations of CR (VI) over extended periods of time.
Increased Risk of Cancer:
Hexavalent Chromium is a known carcinogen. The risk of developing cancer is increased with extended exposure, and potential inhalation. According to OSHA case studies, workers that were exposed to Hexavalent Chromium in various chromate production and chrome electroplating applications in the 1980’s showed increased rates of lung cancer, and mortality.