Monday, March 30, 2015

Women at risk when exposed to chemical used to remove paint and coatings

EPA releases final risk assessment for NMP

Pregnant women and those of childbearing
age were at risk to exposure NMP: Experts
WASHINGTON - The U.S. EPA released the final risk assessment for N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP), a chemical commonly used to remove paint and other coatings.

The assessment identified risks to pregnant women and women of childbearing age, who have high exposure to NMP through paint or other coating removal.

“By completing this assessment, we have taken an important step in protecting pregnant women and women of childbearing age who are using NMP to remove paint,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“It is a reminder that as we evaluate these risks, it is very clear that our nation’s chemical laws are in much need of reform. Completing this assessment will now trigger a process to address these unacceptable risks.”

Acute and chronic risks identified for women of childbearing age who use NMP for less than four hours per day may be reduced by use of specific types of chemical-resistant gloves.

However, gloves and respirators do not adequately reduce risks to women of childbearing age who use NMP for more than four hours per day on a single day or repeatedly over a succession of days.

The NMP final risk assessment was developed as part of the Agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identified chemicals for review and assessment of potential risks to people’s health and the environment.

NMP is a common alternative to methylene chloride, also known as Dichloromethane (DCM), a chemical-based paint and coating remover.

EPA has also identified risks associated with methylene chloride during the removal of paint and other coatings.

For both NMP and methylene chloride, EPA is considering a range of voluntary and regulatory actions to reduce risks, and recommends finding safer paint/coating removal chemicals, or taking precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside, in a well-ventilated area, and wearing proper gloves and respiratory protection.

Additional information on the NMP final risk assessment and other work plan chemicals can be found here.

Source: EPA press release

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

EPA proposes record-keeping rules for nanoscale chemicals

For the first time the agency will use TSCA authority to collect health and safety information on nanoscale chemical substances already in use

The EPA wants companies to submit
information on nanoscale chemicals.
WASHINGTON D.C., – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements on nanoscale chemical substances in the marketplace.

“Nanotechnology holds great promise for improving products, from TVs and vehicles to batteries and solar panels, said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“We want to continue to facilitate the trend toward this important technology. Today’s action will ensure that EPA also has information on nano-sized versions of chemicals that are already in the marketplace.”

EPA currently reviews new chemical substances manufactured or processed as nanomaterials prior to introduction into the marketplace to ensure that they are safe.

For the first time, the agency is proposing to use TSCA to collect existing exposure and health and safety information on chemicals currently in the marketplace when manufactured or processed as nanoscale materials.

The proposal will require one-time reporting from companies that manufacture or process chemical substances as nanoscale materials.

The companies will notify EPA of:

  • certain information, including specific chemical identity; 
  • production volume; 
  • methods of manufacture; processing, use, exposure, and release information; and, 
  • available health and safety data. 

Nanoscale materials have special properties related to their small size such as greater strength and lighter weight, however, they may take on different properties than their conventionally-sized counterpart.

The proposal is not intended to conclude that nanoscale materials will cause harm to human health or the environment; Rather, EPA would use the information gathered to determine if any further action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including additional information collection, is needed.

The proposed reporting requirements are being issued under the authority of section 8(a) under TSCA. The agency is requesting public comment on the proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements 90 days from publication in the Federal Register. EPA also anticipates holding a public meeting during the comment period. The time and place of the meeting will be announced on EPA’s web page.

Additional information and a fact sheet on the specifics of the proposed rule and what constitutes a nanocale chemical material can be found here.

Source: EPA press release

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Auto parts store cited for exposing workers to asbestos and mold

The auto parts store failed to protect worker health and
safety, OSHA says.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A worker alleging the existence of asbestos, mold and hygiene hazards led to an inspection of an Advance Auto Parts store in Kansas City, where the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found one repeated and 10 serious safety and health violations with fines of $60,000.

"Exposure to asbestos is a dangerous workplace issue that can cause loss of lung function and cancer, among other serious health effects. When Advance Auto uses an older building with presumed asbestos-containing material, such as floor tiles, it has a responsibility to conduct periodic air monitoring and must post warning signs for workers," said Barbara Theriot, OSHA's area director in Kansas City.

"The company also has a responsibility to maintain the building in a sanitary and safe manner. OSHA found persistent flooding, which caused mold growth and created lower-level slip and fall hazards. This is unacceptable."

OSHA inspectors tested bulk samples of furnace room floor tiles and found they contained 3 percent chrysotile, a form of asbestos. Sample air monitoring did not detect asbestos fibers circulating in the heating and air conditioning system.

However, particles could become airborne from deteriorating tiles and persistent flooding, a consistent issue throughout the building.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber used in some building materials before its health dangers were discovered. Asbestos fibers are invisible and can be inhaled into the lungs unknowingly. Inhaled fibers can then become embedded in the lungs.

Inspectors also found electrical safety violations and blocked exit routes at the store, resulting in the 10 serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

OSHA also noted a repeated violation for failing to provide inspectors with injury and illness logs.

Based in Roanoke, Virginia, Advance Auto Parts was previously cited for this violation in a Delaware, Ohio, store in 2010 and a Lakeland, Florida, store in 2011.

OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was cited previously for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.

Advance Auto Parts has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit OSHA online.

Source: OSHA

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