1. Historical Perspective on Global Occupational Exposure Limits
Adverse health effects from occupational exposure to chemicals has been known for thousands of years. The Romans noted effects from lead and asbestos and later arsenic. A list of “poisons” that have been used for various purposes was well known.
Establishing occupational exposure limits for some of these chemicals started over 150 years ago. It is interesting to note that indoor air quality standards were recommended first because this research was funded by wealthy individuals to protect their health in their castles. The first actual chemical exposure standards for workers was set by Germany for the manufacturing of gas warfare agents (1912). The first peace-time occupational exposure limit was for quartz (inhalation causes silicosis and other lung diseases), which is still an exposure problem over 100 years later.
Occupational exposure limits exist in over 50 countries and regions. Some exposure levels apply to 8 hour occupational exposures, 15 minute Short Term Exposure Limit (STELs), ceiling limits, Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health limits (IDLH) and yet others are designed to address 24 hour exposures, cancer risks or reproductive risks. In the past decades, many countries, regions and organizations have worked on perfecting their exposure standards. Some historical highlights are shown as below.
You are a visitor, Please Login or Sign up for free to read more.