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Health Hazards of Smoke Spring 1993

Exposure Limits for Firefighters

Based on the recommendations from a variety of sources, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposes workplace exposure limits for hundreds of industrial hazards. After extensive review and public comment, OSHA adopts, publishes, and enforces workplace standards. OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs) are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Table 1 lists TWA and STEL values for some of the hazards that have been found in the smoke from wildland fires.

Table 1—Permissible Exposure Limits for Some Health Hazards of Smoke.*

  Respirable Particulate mg/m³ Benzene ppm CO ppm Acrolein ppm Formaldehyde ppm
TWA 5 1 35 0.1 0.75
STEL - 5 - 0.3 2.0
Ceiling - - 200 - -

*From 29 CFR 1910.1000

The NIOSH-recommended exposure limits (RELs) and the OSHA permissible exposure limits (PELs) are published in the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (DHHS [NIOSH] Publication # 90-117). ACGIH TLVs are listed in the guide when they are more restrictive than the NIOSH RELs or OSHA PELs.

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