TABLE 2-1 Occupational-Exposure Guidelines for Lead

Agency Air-Exposure Guideline (8-h time-weighted average) Recommended Limit for Blood Lead Level Year Approved
Occupational Safety and Health Administration 50 μg/m3 40 μg/dL 1978
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 50 μg/m3 60 μg/dL 1978
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists 50 μg/m3 30 μg/dL 1987 (air) 1995 (blood)
European Council Directive 98/24 150 μg/m3 70 μg/dL 1998
European Union Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits 100 μg/m3 30 μg/dL 2002
German Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area None, because probably carcinogenic in humans 40 μg/dL for men and women over 45 years old 10 μg/dL for women under 45 years old 2006
United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive 150 μg/m3 25 μg/dL for women of reproductive age 40 μg/dL for people 16-17 years old 50 μg/dL for all other employees 2002

Historical Context

In the years preceding the promulgation of the OSHA lead standard, airborne lead exposure limits of 150-200 μg/m3 and BLLs of 80 μg/dL were followed (43 Fed. Reg. 52952 [1978]). Data that emerged in the middle 1970s suggested that those levels were too high and should be reduced.

OSHA provided the following rationale for the final standard (40 Fed. Reg. 52952 [1978]):

Health Effects: OSHA relied on studies that reported adverse health effects in conjunction with BLLs and considered both effects from acute exposure and, to the extent that they were known, effects of long-term lead exposure. In



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