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The National Shipbuilding Research Program, Welding Fume Study

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Final rept.

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In anticipation of the lowering of OSHA permissible exposure limits PEL for several compounds found in welding fume in the near future, Panel SP-7 of the National Shipbuilding Research Program contracted with DynCorp to identify and evaluate the economic and workplace impact of the lowered limits by examining welding processes used in the shipbuilding industry, gathering air sample data, and addressing the impact of the anticipated reduction. It is anticipated that the PEL for hexavalent chromium will be reduced from the current level of 100 micrograms per cubic meter ugm3 to between 0.5 - 5.0 ugm3 and that a the PEL will be established for manganese at 200 ugm3. A total of three interim deliverables were produced during this project. Task No. 1 - Information Search is presented in Appendix 1. Task No. 2 - Regulatory Impact Analysis is presented in Appendix 2. Task No. 3 - Field Evaluations is presented in Appendix 3. Photographs collected during site visits are presented in Appendix 4. Six engineering control methods were selected for evaluation based upon the Information Search and commercial availability. The six methods selected were fume extractor guns, fixed fume extraction systems, portable fume extraction systems, low fume welding wires, downdraftbackdraft tables, and fume filtration devices. No single engineering control observed consistently reduced worker fume exposures to levels below the lowest anticipated OSHA PEL reductions. The annual cost of compliance for each shipyard worker is estimated at 24,094 if the PEL for Cr6 is reduced to 0.5 ugm3. This cost estimation, completed in 1997, does not include the anticipated cost impact of the new OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, which became effective April 8, 1998.

Subject Categories:

  • Fabrication Metallurgy
  • Marine Engineering
  • Air Pollution and Control

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