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NIOSH Issues Draft Current Intelligence Bulletin on Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to 1-Bromopropane

Release Date: March 25, 2016

The volatile organic solvent 1-Bromopropane, often referred to as 1-BP, is used in a variety of occupational settings, including manufacturing processes, degreasing operations, cleaning electronics and metal, as well as a solvent for using aerosol applied adhesives. It is also used as an alternative solvent in the dry cleaning industry. Since the late 20th century, 1-BP has received increased global attention as an alternative to ozone-depleting substances and other regulated chemicals. As a result of its toxicity and increasing use, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has addressed the use of 1-BP in the workplace by issuing a document entitled Draft Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to 1-Bromopropane (1-BP).

The draft criteria document provides a comprehensive summary of the known health effects, exposure data, quantitative risk assessment, and recommendations for controlling exposures in the workplace. NIOSH will be accepting public comments on the draft document until April 29, 2016, and a public meeting will be held at NIOSH/CDC Robert A. Taft Laboratories Auditorium in Cincinnati, OH, on March 30, 2016.

Workers who are exposed to 1-BP breathe in the vapor, and from the lungs, the 1-BP can be absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed to the rest of the body, where it can have toxic effects. Workers can also be exposed through contact with liquid 1-BP on the skin, often as a result of spills or splashes. As discussed in the 1-BP criteria document, excessive exposure to 1-BP can cause irritation, such as eye and skin irritation, and can damage the nervous system. Neurologic effects include headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness, slurred speech, confusion, difficulty walking, muscle twitching, and/or loss of feeling in arms and legs. 1-BP has also been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and is designated as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Additional animal studies have shown that exposure can result in non-cancer health effects as well, including organ-specific toxicity. In 2013, NIOSH and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) jointly released a Hazard Alert on 1-BP exposure for workers.

Based on its evaluation of the available scientific information about 1-BP, NIOSH has proposed a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.3 parts per million (ppm) [1.5 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) of air] as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) concentration during a 40-hour work week.

It is significant to note that in addition to the NIOSH draft criteria document, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft Toxic Substances Control Act Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment for 1-Bromopropane, which provides a summary of health effects and exposure data for both workers and consumers for particular uses of 1-BP. The CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has also released a draft ATSDR Toxicological Profile on 1-Bromopropane. While each agency’s review has a distinct focus based on their mandates, they draw similar conclusions about the health hazards of 1-BP. NIOSH, EPA, and ATSDR will continue to coordinate in addressing concerns associated with this chemical. All three agencies’ documents are currently available for public comment.

A NIOSH FAQ document on the 1-BP criteria document, which provides an overview of the issues, can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/pdfs/faqforniosh1bpdraftdocument.pdf. It also contains links to the 1-BP EPA and ASTDR documents on the chemical.

The NIOSH Draft Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to 1-Bromopropane (1-BP), and information about how to submit public comments and attend the public meeting, can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/review/docket057a/default.html.

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