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OSHA issues health bulletin on grain-industry fumigants

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Washington – Fumigants used in the grain industry contain chemicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease and other permanent health disorders among workers, OSHA cautioned in a Safety and Health Information Bulletin released in January.

Toxic chemicals such as methyl bromide and phosphine are found in fumigants used for insect control on stored grain. Workers who handle both fumigants and fumigated grain are at risk for heart disease, vascular disease, cancer and permanent central nervous system damage, according to the bulletin.

“The increased use of these fumigants and increases in the handling of fumigated grain, coupled with the insidious nature of these toxicants makes it imperative that employers take special care in the evaluation of their grain handling facilities and transit carriers,” OSHA stated.

The agency recommends that employers carefully monitor fumigated grain shipments and storage facilities, and use industrial hygiene practices to protect potentially exposed workers.