Solvent Vapor Exposure

Evaluating Exposure

The following references provide information about the evaluation of occupational exposures to solvents:

  • OSHA Occupational Chemical Database. OSHA’s premier one-stop shop for occupational chemical information. It compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. Information available on the pages includes chemical identification and physical properties, exposure limits, sampling information, and additional resources.
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2003). Determines whether a dose-response relationship exists between hepatic surveillance end-points and cumulative or subacute exposure to solvents.
  • Employers must comply with a number of standards where employees are potentially exposed to chemical hazards. These include OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits PELs for about 400 substances, which can be found as follows:
    • General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000, Toxic and Hazardous Substances
        • Air contaminants and Z1, Z2, Z3 tables
        • 29 CFR 1910.1001 – 29 CFR 1910.1018
        • 29 CFR 1910.1025- 29 CFR 1910.1053


    • Construction: 29 CFR 1926.1101, Toxic and Hazardous Substances
        • 29 CFR 1926.1101 – 29 CFR 1926.1153

      Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000, Toxic and Hazardous Substances

      • Substance-specific standards

    Other OSHA standards that generally apply to hazardous substances include the Hazard Communication standard (1910.1200) and the Respiratory Protection standard (1910.134). Employers may also need to provide personal protective clothing (1910.132) where there is a potential hazard from skin contact with chemicals, or eye and face protection to guard against chemical splashes (1910.133).

Activities that can produce large amounts of solvent vapors are spraying & spray-painting, frequent use of solvent-soaked rags to clean parts or cleaning large surface areas, dipping or cleaning parts in large open containers, large spills or releases.

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