ST. PAUL, Minn. - 3M, St. Paul, Minn., is providing information to help its customers meet requirements specified in the new hexavalent chromium standard recently released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Chromium is a metal used as a pigment in paints, inks, plastics, and as an anti-corrosion agent in protective coatings and in chrome plating. Chromium occurs mainly in three forms, including Cr(VI), covered under the new standard.
Common sources of exposure to chromium include inorganic-pigment handling and manufacturing, spraying anti-corrosion coatings, electroplating, and stainless steel welding and cutting. OSHA lists 32 different affected industries, including welding, electroplating, and paint and coatings production.
The permissible exposure limits (PEL) for all industries is now 5 µg/m3. The previous PEL was 52 µg/m3. A primary reason for announcing the new standard is the realization that much-lower levels of the substance than previously thought can have serious health implications.
The 3M document describes situations where respirators are required because exposure levels exceed the PEL. While there is no respirator-selection table specific to Cr(VI) standards, 3M makes recommendations consistent with current respirator selection based on situations encountered.
See www.3M.com/OccSafety for product information. To contact an AIHA-accredited laboratory or an industrial hygienist for assistance with exposure assessment, go to www.aiha.org and select Laboratories or Consultants. For a complete copy of the standard, refer to OSHA's Web site: www.osha.gov.