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Chemistry council says compliance with new silica PEL will be costly

August 10, 2011

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Washington – Strengthening the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica would make accurate measurement of the deadly compound difficult and would cost employers billions of dollars a year, according to consultants for the American Chemistry Council.

At an Office of Management and Budget meeting that took place Aug. 2, Environomics Inc. and URS Corp. – both acting as consultants for ACC – presented an analysis (.pdf file) of the potential effects of lowering the current PEL of 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50, as recommended by NIOSH and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. According to the analysis, such a move would create $5.5 billion in annualized compliance costs and $1.1 billion in lost revenue.

The consultants also warned that reliably determining whether or not a facility is in compliance with a 50 µg/m3 PEL could be “impossible.” This concern was echoed in another URS report (.pdf file).

At press time, an OSHA rule to lower the silica PEL was under review by OMB, with a notice of proposed rulemaking expected at any time.

The OMB meeting was the eighth convened about the rule since March 31.

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