OSHA is asking for comments and information from the public to help the agency determine the best way to address occupational exposures to hexavalent chromium. The metal is most commonly used as a structural and anti-corrosive element in the production of stainless steel, ferrochromium, iron and steel, and in electroplating, welding and painting. Exposures to it have been associated with lung cancer, dermatoses and some respiratory problems.

OSHA's request for information, published in the Aug. 22, 2002, Federal Register, is arranged among numerous topics that include: health effects; risk assessment; methods of analyzing exposure levels; investigations into occupational exposures, control measures, and technological and economic feasibility; use of personal protective equipment and respirators; current employee training and medical screening programs; and environmental and small business impacts.

OSHA's current general industry standard sets a permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium compounds at 100 micrograms per cubic meter as a ceiling concentration. The standard for construction is 100 micrograms per cubic meter as an eight-hour time-weighted average.

Comments must be submitted by Nov. 20, 2002. To submit comments by regular mail, express delivery, hand delivery or messenger service, send three copies and attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H-0054a, Room N2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. You may also fax comments (ten pages or fewer) to (202) 693-1648. Include the docket number in your comments. Comments may also be submitted electronically through the Internet at http://ecomments.osha.gov. Further information on submitting comments can be obtained by calling the Docket Office at (202) 693-2350.