OSHA Releases Chemical Exposure Health Data

OSHA recently released 25+ years worth of industrial hygiene sampling data as a part of the “Open Government” initiative.

OSHA takes industrial hygiene samples as part of its compliance monitoring program. Many of these samples are submitted to the Salt Lake Technical Center for analysis. Sampling data represent personal, area, and bulk samples for various airborne contaminants.

Personal sampling results represent the exposure to the individual who was actually wearing a sampling device. Area samples are taken in a fixed location and results may represent the potential risk from airborne contaminants or physical agents to workers in that area. Bulk samples were taken to verify if certain constituents are present and if so, in what concentration. Bulk samples are used individually or in conjunction with personal or area samples to help interpret the level of worker risk.

OSHA compliance officers do not:

  • Routinely visit every business which use chemicals known to be toxic.
  • Take representative samples of every employee and every activity on every day.
  • Always obtain a sample for an entire (8-hour) period or shift.

OSHA compliance officers do:

  • Target and visit certain industries based on National and regional emphasis programs.
  • Have limited time to conduct an inspection and cannot completely characterize all exposures for all employees, every day.
  • Use professional judgment and often attempt to evaluate worse case chemical exposure scenarios.
  • Develop a snapshot picture of potentially hazardous chemical exposures and use field evaluation tools to assess their significance: often comparing their measured airborne concentrations of chemicals against established standards.