IARC Evaluates Carcinogenicity of Agents Including Cobalt, Antimony

May 09, 2022
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently completed its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of cobalt, antimony compounds, and weapons-grade tungsten alloy. The agency examined nine agents: cobalt metal (without tungsten carbide or other metal alloys), soluble cobalt(II) salts, cobalt(II) oxide, cobalt(II,III) oxide, cobalt(II) sulfide, other cobalt(II) compounds, trivalent antimony, pentavalent antimony, and weapons-grade tungsten (with nickel and cobalt) alloy. IARC classified three of the agents—cobalt metal, soluble cobalt(II) salts, and trivalent antimony—in Group 2A, the agency’s designation for agents that are probable carcinogens to humans. Two others—cobalt(II) oxide and weapons-grade tungsten alloy—fall into Group 2B and are possibly carcinogenic to humans, according to IARC. The agency found the remaining four agents to be not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans.
IARC explains that antimony is used in products such as flame retardants, plastics, brake pads, and glass and ceramics, while cobalt is used to make cutting and grinding tools as well as in the manufacture of pigments and paints, colored glass, medical implants, and electroplating. Cobalt’s use in lithium-ion battery production is increasing, the agency says. Weapons-grade tungsten alloys are found in armor-penetrating munitions, and IARC notes that both military personnel and civilians can be exposed to metal aerosols generated during firing or impact. The agency stresses that “exposures are expected to be higher in occupational situations than in the general population” for all nine agents it evaluated.
A summary of IARC’s evaluation is available online in The Lancet Oncology. The full article is available free of charge to registered users (registration is also free). Further details can be found on IARC’s website.
IARC’s detailed assessments will be published later in Volume 131 of the IARC Monographs. IARC monographs identify and evaluate environmental factors that can increase carcinogenic hazards to humans. IARC is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, and agencies worldwide use its monographs as scientific support for their actions to prevent exposure to potential carcinogens.
Toxicological Profile Published for the Industrial Chemical 1,1-Dichloroethene
A new final toxicological profile for the industrial chemical 1,1-dichloroethene, also known as vinylidene chloride, is available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ATSDR describes 1,1-dichloroethene as a colorless liquid with a mild, sweet smell that is not found naturally in the environment. The agency’s toxicological profile for 1,1-dichloroethene explains that the chemical is used to make plastics like flexible films as well as flame-retardant coatings for fiber and carpet backings. It is also found in packaging materials, piping, and adhesives. Occupational exposures to 1,1-dichloroethene are of concern among workers in industries that make or use the chemical. ATSDR warns that breathing high levels of 1,1-dichloroethene can affect the central nervous system, and skin or eye contact with the chemical can cause irritation.
Laboratory animals exposed to 1,1-dichloroethene via inhalation or ingestion developed damaged livers, kidneys, and lungs. According to EPA, there is “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity” of 1,1-dichloroethene by the inhalation route, but the evidence is not sufficient to assess the chemical’s carcinogenic potential in humans. EPA states that “data are inadequate for an assessment of human carcinogenic potential” by the oral route. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of 1,1-dichloroethene. The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards provides additional information on 1,1-dichloroethene.
New final toxicological profiles are also available for the pesticide DDT and two chemicals that can form when DDT breaks down, DDE and DDD, as well as for pentachlorophenol, a pesticide and wood preservative.
ATSDR toxicological profiles characterize the toxicology and adverse health effects information for hazardous substances. The peer-reviewed profiles identify and review the key literature describing substances’ toxicological properties. Information on substances’ potential for human exposure; chemical and physical properties; regulations and guidelines; and production, import, use, and disposal can also be found in ATSDR’s toxicological profiles. A full list of toxic substances with published profiles is available on the agency’s website.
PPG Industries, Inc. Fined $299,000 for Selling Paint Thinners, Aerosol Coating Products that Exceed California Air Quality Requirements
The California Air Resources Board recently announced a $299,000 settlement with PPG Industries, Inc., a global manufacturer of paints, coatings and specialty materials headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the company’s violation of state air quality regulations.
PPG sold, supplied and offered for sale noncompliant paint thinners and aerosol clear-coating products that were manufactured for use in California, but which exceeded the state’s air quality requirements.
Manufacturers are expected to be familiar with CARB regulations, to take sufficient quality control measures, and to label their products’ uses for the applicable category. Manufacturers also must consistently inform distributors and retailers of the products’ compliance.
“CARB is committed to enforcing consumer product rules to improve the air we all breathe and to help California meet federal ozone standards that protect public health,” CARB head of enforcement Todd Sax said. “Manufacturers such as PPG carry the greatest responsibility of supplying Californians with consumer products that comply with emissions standards. Their attention to the legal requirements related to the manufacture, importation and distribution of products significantly impacts California’s air quality.”
The PPG paint thinner products contained concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aromatic compounds that exceeded state standards, a CARB investigation revealed. Additionally, the aerosol coating products exceeded the reactivity limit for clear coating as specified in state regulation. Together, the violations resulted in 5.42 tons of excess VOC emissions, 15.15 tons of excess aromatic compounds, and the formation of 2.98 tons of excess ground-level ozone.
VOCs are gases released from solid or liquid products (everything from paint to hair spray), which contribute to ozone formation. An element of smog, ozone causes respiratory health effects including lung irritation, shortness of breath and coughing, and can aggravate asthma and other lung diseases.
PPG cooperated fully with CARB to resolve this matter and ceased sales of the noncompliant products to come into compliance with the state’s air quality regulations.
Of the $299,000 that PPG agreed to pay, $149,800 will be deposited into CARB’s Air Pollution Control Fund, which funds projects and research to improve air quality. The remaining $149,200 will fund a supplemental environment project titled “Side Street Projects – Woodworking Bus.” The project will fund the purchase of new buses to replace older diesel-powered buses used for mobile classrooms. The mobile classrooms are used to teach woodworking skills to elementary school students.
Concrete Paving Contractor Fined After Worker Suffers Fatal Injury
Federal workplace safety investigators found that a construction company’s failure to prevent sudden start-up of a conveyor system contributed to an 18-year-old worker’s fatal injuries after he was pulled into a hot asphalt silo as he tried to remove debris from the conveyor in Oklahoma City on Nov. 2, 2021.
OSHA opened an inspection at TJ Campbell Construction Co. and determined the conveyor system was not locked out/tagged out to avoid accidental startups. OSHA issued willful citations for failing to develop and use procedures for controlling hazardous energy when servicing or cleaning the asphalt conveyor system, and not training workers adequately on requirements for controlling hazardous energy.
“A young worker was barely three months on the job when his life was tragically cut short,” said OSHA Area Director Steven Kirby in Oklahoma City. “Had TJ Campbell Construction Company provided their workers with the required training on controlling hazardous energy and ensuring proper shutdown before any attempt to remove debris was made, this young man would have ended his workday safely.”
In addition to the willful citations, OSHA cited the company for the following:
  • Permitting unguarded pulleys, chain and sprockets on walking and working surfaces
  • Failing to apply energy isolation devices
  • Missing handrails on stairways
  • Uncovered holes in the floor of walking working surfaces
Two Georgia Construction Contractors Cited After Bridge Collapse Takes Worker’s Life
A federal workplace safety investigation has determined that two companies failed to follow required safety standards that could have prevented a bridge collapse and spared the life of a 33-year-old worker on a demolition project in Covington on Oct. 19, 2021.
B&D Concrete Cutting, Inc. of Atlanta and Georgia Bridge and Concrete, LLC of Tucker did not conduct a proper engineering survey and, as the access road bridge over the Yellow River was being dismantled, an overstressed section of the bridge collapsed and fell into the river. During the collapse, a concrete saw weighing more than 1,700 pounds struck and fatally injured the worker employed by B&D Concrete Cutting. A second B&D worker suffered injuries and was hospitalized.
OSHA investigators cited B&D Concrete Cutting, Inc. and Georgia Bridge and Concrete, LLC – the project’s prime contractor – for not ensuring a competent person had performed an engineering survey before allowing workers to begin the dismantling project. Additionally, company personnel did not ensure procedures were in place to prevent structural members from being overstressed during dismantling operations. This failure exposed employees to fall and struck-by hazards.
“If the employers had conducted a proper survey on this highly technical project as required, the tragic loss of one worker and serious injuries to another may not have happened,” said OSHA Area Office Director Joshua Turner in Atlanta-East. “Established safety standards exist to ensure workers get home safely and don’t leave families, friends and communities to grieve a preventable fatality.”
OSHA also cited Georgia Bridge and Concrete for failing to keep a fire extinguisher within 75 feet of two equipment refueling stations. The agency proposed penalties of $31,283 for Georgia Bridge and Concrete and $25,669 for B&D Concrete Cutting.
B&D Concrete Cutting, Inc. – formerly known as B&K Concrete Cutting – is a construction contractor specializing in cutting and removal within commercial, industrial, transportation, aviation and healthcare industries. Georgia Bridge and Concrete, LLC – formerly known as Sunbelt Structures, Inc. – specializes in bridge and heavy civil construction.
Air Quality Awareness Week 2022: AirNow Fire and Smoke Map Adds New Feature to Improve Accessibility for People with Color Vision Deficiencies
As the agency kicks off Air Quality Awareness Week, the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are announcing a new pilot feature of the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map to make it more accessible to people with color vision deficiencies.
“As we mark Air Quality Awareness Week this year, I’m excited to join the U.S. Forest Service to provide a new AirNow feature that allows more Americans to access our important air quality resources,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The AirNow app helps communities near the front lines better understand their risks from wildfire smoke and the actions they can take to protect their health during wildfire events.”
Recognizing that people with color vision deficiencies may have difficulty discerning adjacent Air Quality Index (AQI) colors, EPA and USFS are piloting a modified version of the AQI color scale on the Fire and Smoke Map. The modified scale, which was developed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in coordination with the Desert Research Institute, is designed to accommodate individuals who have some form of color vision deficiency, while being similar to the traditional U.S. AQI color scale used across the country. To access the modified scale, click or tap the color wheel icon in the upper righthand corner of the map, which is available both on the AirNow website and in the free AirNow app for iPhones and Android phones.
EPA and USFS launched the Fire and Smoke Map in 2020 to provide the public information on fire locations, smoke plumes and air quality all in one place. To give users the most localized air quality information possible, the map pulls data from monitors that regularly report to AirNow, temporary monitors such as those the Forest Service and air agencies have deployed near fires, and crowd-sourced data from nearly 13,000 low-cost sensors that measure fine particle pollution, the major harmful pollutant in smoke. The map shows this data in the familiar color-coding of the AQI.
If you haven’t visited the Fire and Smoke Map before, Air Quality Awareness Week is a great time to start. EPA and its federal, state, local and tribal partners mark the week every May to share information on air quality and health and to encourage people to use the AQI to plan their outdoor activities to protect their health from air pollution. This year’s theme is “Be Air Aware and Prepared,” and AirNow is featuring daily information about air quality topics, including wildfire smoke, asthma and environmental justice, among others. Follow @AirNow on Twitter and Facebook to test your “AQ IQ” during the week, and search the hashtag #AQAW2022 to see more Air Quality Awareness Week content from EPA and its partners.
AirNow is the nation’s go-to site for official air quality information. Visit the site at https://www.airnow.gov. To see the Fire and Smoke Map, go to https://fire.airnow.gov.
To download the free AirNow App, visit:
Worker Suffers Arm Amputation from Brick Crushing Machine
A Pennsylvania manufacturer’s failure to provide guarding on a brick crushing machine ended in a 53-year-old worker suffering an arm amputation while operating the machine. A subsequent federal investigation at TYK America, Inc.’s Clairton manufacturing facility found the company previously identified a deficiency with the machine’s guarding but kept the machine operational and did not repair the deficiency prior to the amputation incident.
OSHA cited TYK America for 11 safety violations – including one willful and eight serious – following an investigation initiated on Nov. 18, 2021. OSHA proposed $108,769 in penalties for the violations.
Inspectors determined that the injured worker’s left hand and arm were caught and pulled into the rotating drums of the machine while loading brick pieces into it. OSHA found the company failed to provide guarding to prevent employees from having any part of their body in the danger zone during operation. This hazard was identified during previous periodic inspections of the machine by the employer, but repairs were never made – a willful violation cited by OSHA. Additional serious violations and other-than-serious violations included a lack of warning labels and guarding on machinery and workers exposed to electrical, crushed-by and struck-by hazards while using a damaged hoist to lift lance pipes and molds weighing up to approximately 1,619 pounds.
“TYK America Inc. could have prevented this incident by simply repairing the machine and ensuring it was properly guarded,” said OSHA Pittsburgh Area Director Christopher Robinson, in Pittsburgh. “OSHA holds employers legally responsible when they jeopardize worker safety and health.”
Roofing Contractor Exposed Employees to Falls at Five Work Sites
OSHA initiated six inspections in southern New Jersey at five of All Best Contractor Corp.'s work sites in 2021 in October and December, and 2022 in January and March as part of the agency's local emphasis program for fall hazards.
In every inspection, OSHA found the company did not provide workers doing sheathing and framing work on roofs with fall protection as the law requires. The agency also identified violations related to workers exposed to damaged ladders, unsafe use of ladders and electrical hazards. They also found the company failed to provide eye and head protection, and train employees on forklift use.
OSHA cited the company with seven willful and 11 safety violations. Proposed penalties total $793,290.
"OSHA inspectors found All Best Contractor Corp.’s foreman on site, and yet he allowed employees to work while knowing that they lacked fall and other safety protections. Such blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of the company’s workers shows a willful recklessness," said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. "The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will make every effort to hold employers accountable when they put workers at increased risk of serious injuries or worse."
Falls from elevation are a leading cause of death for construction employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports falls accounted for 351 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2020. OSHA encourages industry employers and workers to participate in the 2022 National Safety Stand-Down from May 2-6. The annual event raises industry awareness of fall hazards in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.
OSHA also encourages employers to use visit its 'Stop Falls' web site which includes detailed information on fall protection standards in English and Spanish. The site offers fact sheets, posters and videos that illustrate various fall hazards and appropriate preventive measures.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
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