U.S. to limit silica exposure

U.S. to limit silica exposure

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

The U.S. Labor Department is proposing to lower workplace exposure to crystalline silica to reduce the risk of variety of ailments, including lung cancer and silicosis. The rule change will likely affect operations at recycling facilities that process glass cullet and CRT glass.

According to the agency's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the rule change could save up to 700 lives and prevent 1,600 cases of silicosis per year by cutting exposure limits to silica in half. Silica dust is produced from working with various materials, including the glass handled by many processors in the recycling industry.

The proposal comes after more two years of delays, with the Obama administration receiving criticism from proponents of the rule change eager to see it in set in motion, as well as business groups who were wary of the necessity and costs of the change.

Business groups have pushed back against the OSHA proposal, arguing that data suggests that cases of silicosis have been on the decline since 1968 and costs of compliance would be an unfair burden on businesses.

OSHA's website now features a Crystalline Silica Rulemaking page, defending the process and proposal. "The proposed rule is the result of extensive review of scientific evidence relating to the health risks of exposure to respirable crystalline silica, analysis of the diverse industries where worker exposure to crystalline silica occurs, and robust outreach efforts to affected stakeholders."

According to a New York Times report, silica exposure limits have not been revised in more than four decades.

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