The agency began the review last year in response to concerns about limitations in the NIOSH Carcinogen Policy. According to the NIOSH Request for Information, one major limitation concerns the use of the term "potential occupational carcinogen."
Dating back to the 1980 OSHA hazard classification for carcinogens, the definition says it is "any substance, or combination or mixture of substances which causes an increased incidence of benign and/or malignant neoplasms, or a substantial decrease in the latency period between exposure and onset of neoplasms in humans or in one or more experimental mammalian species as the result of any oral, respiratory or dermal exposure, or any other exposure which results in the induction of tumors at a site other than the site of administration. This definition also includes any substance which is metabolized into one or more potential occupational carcinogens by mammals."
The limitation in the definition concerns the use of the word "potential" which "conveys uncertainty that is not warranted with many carcinogens such as asbestos, benzene, and others. This policy does not allow for classification on the basis of the magnitude and sufficiency of the scientific evidence," NIOSH said.
The agency notes other organizations, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program allow for a more differential classification.
Another reason for the review and update is due to the international focus on the "need for more efficient and quicker means of classifying chemicals," the agency said. It says hazard banding, for example, is among the qualitative and semi-qualitative approaches being investigated as a means of addressing the large numbers of unregulated chemicals, and NIOSH has collaborated with other organizations to consider using that approach to control chemicals.
Public comments are being accepted through Sept. 22 via mail, fax, or e-mail. A complete electronic docket with all comments will be available on the NIOSH Web page.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 19, 2011
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