Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Hazard Alert From OSHA and NIOSH

OSHA and NIOSH have issued an alert warning workplaces about the hazards of 1-Bromopropane (1-BP), a solvent commonly used for degreasing and dry cleaning as well as in adhesive spray applications and solvent sprays.

Also known as n-propyl bromide (nPB), 1-BP has been linked to neurological illnesses when used in occupational settings. Animal studies indicate that the chemical may also cause cancer and reproductive disorders.

The agencies suggest that if possible, workplaces should eliminate use of the substance or find a substitution for it. For example, rather than using 1-BP based adhesives, acetone based adhesives might be used instead.

When use of 1-BP is unavoidable, OSHA and NIOSH suggest taking the following steps:

  • Isolate machinery using 1-BP from other work areas so that workers will not be exposed when using other equipment. If the area is enclosed, consider adding an exhaust ventilation system.
  • Keep all ventilation systems maintained following routine schedules.
  • Dry cleaning operators should ensure that their machines feature safety switches, safety interlocks, filtration systems, filling devices, gaskets and seals that are resistant to 1-BP, and process controls.
  • Worker exposure to 1-BP should be consistently monitored and evaluated.
  • Reduce the amount of time workers are exposed to 1-BP and the number of workers at risk.
  • Purchase, store and use the smallest amount of the chemical possible.
  • Keep containers closed between uses.
  • When used for dry cleaning, avoid overheating the solvent and shortening drying periods.
  • Provide workers at the highest risk with respirators that meet OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard.
  • Provide workers at moderate risk with NIOSH-certified air purifying respirators.
  • Appropriate PPE should be worn to prevent absorption of 1-BP through the skin. Since the chemical travels through most glove materials, polyvinyl alcohol or multiple-layer laminates should be worn.
Read the entire alert here.