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- Two Eau Claire students perish in fire
- Clean Harbors Buys Safety-Kleen
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- Upright workstations
- Lead (Pb) limits called inadequate
- Free fire safety training available
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Lead (Pb) limits called inadequate
There is overwhelming evidence that the general industry standards for lead exposure, set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more than 30 years ago, are inadequate to protect employees at U.S. Department of Defense firing ranges and other worker populations, says a new report from the National Research Council. Blood lead levels below the level deemed safe by OSHA’s standards have been shown to cause nervous system, kidney, heart, reproductive, and other health problems, said the committee that wrote the report.
According to the 1978 OSHA standards, which are still in effect, employees should not be exposed to lead concentrations in the air higher than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3). This limit was set so that workers’ blood lead levels would not exceed 40 micrograms per deciliter of blood (µg/dL).
The report cites recent evaluations performed by the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that offer evidence that nervous system, kidney, heart, reproductive and other health problems can be caused by blood lead levels between 10 and 40 µg/dL or even lower levels.
These data led the committee to conclude that the currently allowable blood lead level of 40 µg/dL provides inadequate protection for DOD firing-range personnel and for any other worker populations covered by OSHA’s general industry standard. Because of the association between air concentrations and blood levels, the committee also concluded that the 50 µg/m3 OSHA limit for lead in air is inadequate for protecting workers; a lower level is clearly warranted, the report says.