EPA, OSHA and NIOSH all have their sights set on regulations or policies directed at potential health hazards associated with composites manufacturing.

OSHA, for example, recently released a proposed rule addressing workplace hazards of respirable crystalline silica, a substance common in many composites shops. If enacted as proposed, the regulation would require expensive and uncertain exposure testing, and, in some cases, installation of engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to silica. OSHA is also interested in bringing bulk resin storage and connected processes under regulation by its administratively burdensome process safety management standard. OSHA has also proposed to require employers to post workplace illness and injury records on a publicly accessible website.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control, proposed to classify as “workplace carcinogens” any substance listed in the Report on Carcinogens. This action would increase the dissemination of incorrect information about styrene health risks.
Oxidation control of composites manufacturing emissions.

EPA has two programs now looking at workplace health risks associated with styrene exposure. The agency’s Integrated Risk Information System program recently held a workshop on the carcinogenic potential of styrene. IRIS program staff appear to be discounting the relevance to human risk assessment of styrene-induced mouse lung tumors, but are still concerned that styrene may be metabolized in humans to substances that damage DNA. And EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act program is expected to independently conduct a safety assessment for styrene by 2015.

Through their dues and contributions to the Composites Advocacy Fund, ACMA members support advocacy programs fighting for regulation and policy based on sound science and consideration of small business feasibility. For more information, contact gov.affairs@acmanet.org.