WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health today issued a hazard alert to urge employers that use 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to take appropriate steps to protect workers from exposure.
"The use of 1-bromopropane has increased in workplaces over the last 20 years," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Workers exposed to this toxic chemical can suffer serious health effects, even long after exposure has ended. Hazardous exposure to 1-BP must be prevented. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers."
Exposure to 1-BP has been associated with damage to the nervous system among workers, and it has been shown to cause reproductive harm in animal studies. The chemical is used in degreasing operations, furniture manufacturing, and dry cleaning. The hazard alert was issued in response to information on the increased use of 1-BP as a substitute for other solvents as well as recent reports of overexposure in furniture manufacturing. 1-BP was nominated as a chemical of concern in OSHA's Web Forum to Identify Hazardous Chemicals.
Workers can be exposed to 1-BP by breathing in vapors or spray mists and by absorption through the skin. The most effective way to protect workers from exposure is to eliminate the use of 1-BP, substituting the chemical with a less toxic substance or less hazardous material. Replacement chemicals also may have associated hazards that need to be considered and controlled.
Engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to 1-BP include isolation of workplace operations and the installation of proper ventilation systems. Other controls, such as a reduction in the time a worker is exposed to the chemical, should also be considered.
The hazard alert can be viewed at: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA_3676.pdf
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 www.osha.gov.