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Hazard Monitoring Overview

What substances require monitoring?

Any chemical/substance listed by OSHA in Subpart Z - Toxic and Hazardous Substances or any substance that has an established Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) where exposure is not reduced to a safe level by engineering and/or administrative controls should be reviewed. Engineering controls would include, for example, fume hoods, local exhaust ventilation, and isolation of the hazard. For more information, see Hazard Assessments.

Some common toxic/hazardous substances include asbestos, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, fluorine, formaldehyde, grain dust, lead, methyl ethyl ketone, nickel, phosphine, silica, zinc, and hundreds of other chemicals and substances that may be found in various products or used in laboratories.

For more information, contact 540-231-3600.

Substances with a PEL

If engineering controls will not be used to control exposures and the substance has a PEL, contact Environmental Health & Safety for guidance before using the substance. Air monitoring may be necessary to ensure that OSHA limits are not exceeded. Note that chemicals used in laboratories are expected to only be used and handled when proper engineering controls (e.g., fume hood, snorkel, etc.) are available; under these conditions, it would not be expected that employee exposure above a PEL would occur except during an emergency such as a chemical spill or fire.

When air samples are taken, the costs associated with lab analysis and sampling media will usually be covered by Environmental Health & Safety. Depending on the number of samples, your department may be asked to support part of the expenses. If air monitoring has been conducted by Environmental Health & Safety, employees will be notified in writing of the results within 15 working days after Environmental Health & Safety receives the results from the analytical laboratory. If many employees have been affected, the notification requirement may be met by posting the results in an appropriate area.

Hazard controls

If exposure monitoring reveals that a regulatory limit has been exceeded, Environmental Health & Safety will work with your department to identify suitable engineering and administrative controls. If the implementation of these controls is not sufficient to decrease the employee's exposure, respiratory protection options will be examined. All employees required to use respirators must be enrolled in the Respiratory Protection Program and be offered medical surveillance through Environmental Health and Safety's Occupational Health Assurance Program (OHAP). Respirator fit testing and employee training must be performed before the employee is assigned a respirator for use.


Contact Information

Zachary Adams, Assistant Director

Phone: 540-231-5985
Email: adamsz@vt.edu