The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) was established under the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 as a research entity to develop safe and healthy workplaces. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and has a current focus on reducing occupational cancer and occupational respiratory disease among other things.
In 1989 the Current Intelligence Bulletin #50 was published to reveal the carcinogenic effects of breathing diesel exhaust and the various industries most impacted by the revelation. Since then the hazards of breathing diesel exhaust have led to codes and standards changing. NFPA 1500 now requires firehouse’s to install source capture exhaust systems to protect living and sleeping quarters. Vehicle maintenance facilities are required by the International Mechanical Code to have source capture vehicle exhaust systems to protect from exposure. Laws regarding presumed cancer contraction have assisted firefighters to receive medical benefits as a result of the studies documenting the high risk of cancer among firefighters.
NIOSH has also published information on the hazards of welding fume. They are currently recommending exposure to Manganese, a by-product of welding fume, be reduced from its current OSHA PEL of 5 mg/m3 to 1 mg/m3. This is still greater than the ACGIH recommended TLV of .02 mg/m3 . The important thing to take note of is that both the NIOSH and ACGIH recommend a reduced exposure limit.
The continued research by NIOSH on the hazards of welding fume might follow the same historical pattern of past hazardous contaminates researched such as exposure to cigarette smoke, asbestos and diesel exhaust. They reduced exposure limit of welding fumes is not a matter of whether it will be reduced, but a question of when it will be reduced.
When designing industrial ventilation systems, it’s important to see what the current NIOSH research reports. This allows us to design potential future government mandated changes into the system. If you’re a company doing lots of welding, you will either have a welding fume extraction system or are researching purchasing one. You should factor in potential regulatory changes now to avoid repetitive costs later. Today you might have met the current OSHA standards of 5mg/m3 . In 3 years, due to the result of NIOSH research and recommendations that PEL’s could be lowered, will you still be compliant?
Silica dust, chemical dusts, wood dusts and other contaminants that NIOSH researches and issues publications on, aims to educate people on the work hazards they potentially face. CDC publishes a pocket guide for chemicals indexed A – Z that provides you with information on the chemical formula, its conversion into milligrams per cubic meter, current and proposed permissible exposure values among other things.
Clean Air Company believes educating our customers on current codes and regulations as well as current research are part of the evaluation on designing your dust collection system.