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Occupational Exposure Limits: A Comparative Study
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3799-4814
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0071-3919
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy.
2008 (English)In: Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology, ISSN 0273-2300, E-ISSN 1096-0295, Vol. 50, no 2, 261-270 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Occupational exposure limits (OELs) are used as an important regulatory instrument to protect workers' health from adverse effects of chemical exposures. The OELs mirror the outcome of the risk assessment and risk management performed by the standard setting actor. In this study we compared the OELs established by 18 different organisations or national regulatory agencies. The OELs were compared with respect to: (1) what chemicals have been selected and (2) the average level of exposure limits for all chemicals. Our database contains OELs for a total of 1341 substances; of these 25 substances have OELs from all 18 organisations while more than one-third of the substances are only regulated by one organisation. The average level of the exposure limits has declined during the past 10 years for 6 of the 8 organisations in our study for which historical data were available; it has increased for Poland and remained nearly unchanged for Sweden. The average level of OELs differs substantially between organisations; the US OSHA exposure limits are (on average) nearly 40 % higher than those of Poland. The scientific or policy-related motivations for these differences remain to be analysed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2008. Vol. 50, no 2, 261-270 p.
Keyword [en]
occupational exposure limits, risk assessment, risk management, chemicals regulation, ACGIH
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9766DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2007.12.004ISI: 000254036000021Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-39149085645OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-9766DiVA: diva2:127813
Note
QC 20101101Available from: 2008-12-10 Created: 2008-12-10 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Management of chemical risk through occupational exposure limits
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Management of chemical risk through occupational exposure limits
2009 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are used as an important regulatory instrument to protect workers’ health from adverse effects of chemical exposures. The OELs mirror the outcome of the risk assessment and risk management performed by the standard setting actor. In paper I the OELs established by 18 different organisations or national regulatory agencies from the industrialised world were compared. The comparison concerned: (1) what chemicals have been selected and (2) the average level of exposure limits for all chemicals. In paper II the OELs established by 7 different national regulatory agencies of EU member states are compared to those of the European Commission (EC). In addition to the same comparisons as performed in the first study a comparison level was introduced (3) the similarity between the OELs of these EU member states and the OELs recommended by the EC.

List of OELs were collected through the web-pages of, and e-mail communication with the standard-setting agencies. The selection of agencies was determined by availability of the lists. The database of paper I contains OELs for a total of 1341 substances; of these 25 substances have OELs from all 18 organisations while more than one third of the substances are only regulated by one organisation alone. In paper II this database was narrowed down to the European perspective.  The average level of OELs differs substantially between organisations; the US OSHA exposure limits are (on average) nearly 40 % higher than those of Poland. Also within Europe there was a nearly as large difference. The average level of lists tends to decrease over time, although there are exceptions to this. The similarity index in paper II indicates that the exposure limits of EU member states are converging towards the European Commission’s recommended OELs. These two studies also showed that OELs for the same substance can vary significantly between different standard-setters. The work presented in paper III identifies steps in the risk assessment that could account for these differences. Substances for which the level of OELs vary by a factor of 100 or more were identified and their documentation sought for further scrutiny. Differences in the identification of the critical effect could explain the different level of the OELs for half of the substances. The results reported in paper III also confirm the tendency of older OELs generally being higher. Furthermore, several OELs were more than 30 years old and were based on out-dated knowledge. But the age of the data review could not account for all the differences in data selection, only one fifth of the documents referred to all available key studies. Also the evaluation of the key studies varied significantly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2009. viii, 22 p.
Series
These in Risk and Safety from the Division of Philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1654-627X
Keyword
occupational exposure limit, risk assessment, risk management, chemicals regulation, regulatory toxicology, European Union
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-9769 (URN)978-91-7415-206-7 (ISBN)
Presentation
2009-02-09, Rum 231, Teknikringen 78, KTH, Stockholm, 15:56 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-01-26 Created: 2008-12-10 Last updated: 2011-02-15Bibliographically approved
2. Setting occupational exposure limits: Practices and outcomes of toxicological risk assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Setting occupational exposure limits: Practices and outcomes of toxicological risk assessment
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) are used as an important regulatory instrument to protect workers’ health from adverse effects of chemical exposures. The main objective of this thesis is to study risk assessment practices in the setting of OEL in order to produce knowledge that will help improve the consistency and transparency of OELs.

For the purpose of paper I a database of OELs for a total of 1341 substances was compiled. Of these, only 25 substances have OELs from all 18 included organisations while more than one third of the substances are only regulated by one organisation alone. The average level of OELs differs substantially between organisations; the US OSHA exposure limits are (on average) nearly 40 % higher than those of Poland.

In paper II six EU member states’ OELs are compared to the European Commission’s OELs. Also within Europe there is a large difference concerning the average level of OELs (35%). The average level of lists tends to decrease over time, although there are exceptions to this. There are also indications that the exposure limits of EU member states are converging towards the European Commission’s OELs.

The work presented in paper III identifies steps in the risk assessment that could account for the large differences in OELs for 14 different substances. Differences in the identification of the critical effect could explain the different level of the OELs for half of the substances. But the age of the data review could not account for all the differences in data selection, only one fifth of the documents referred to all available key studies. Also the evaluation of the key studies varied significantly.

The aim of paper IV was to investigate how the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) of the European Commission uses assessment factors when proposing health-based indicative OELs. For only one third of the investigated OELs were explicit assessment factors given. On average the safety margin of the recommendations was 2.1 higher when an explicit assessment factor had been used. It is recommended that the SCOEL develop and adhere to a more articulate framework on the use of assessment factors.

Paper V focuses on the Derived No-Effect Levels (DNELs) which are to be calculated under the new European Union REACH legislation. It is a comparison of the safety margins of 88 SCOEL recommendations with those of the corresponding worker-DNELs, derived according to the default approach as described in the REACH guidance document. Overall, the REACH safety margins were approximately six times higher than those derived from the SCOEL documentations but varied widely with REACH/SCOEL safety margin ratios ranging by two orders of magnitude, from 0.3 to 58.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2011. viii, 40 p.
Series
Theses in Risk and Safety, ISSN 1654-627X ; 6
Keyword
Assessment Factor, DNEL, Euroepan Union, Occupational Exposure Limit, REACH, Risk Assessment, Regulatory Toxicology, SCOEL, Uncertainty Factor
National Category
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-29777 (URN)978-91-7415-853-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-02-28, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20110215Available from: 2011-02-15 Created: 2011-02-15 Last updated: 2011-02-15Bibliographically approved

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