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A Strategy for Assigning New Niosh Skin Notations: Current Intelligence Bulletin 61

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For more than 20 years, the occupational safety and health community has relied on skin notations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to warn workers about the health hazards of skin exposures to chemicals. These notations have proved to be useful risk management tools for occupational health professionals concerned about protecting worke For more than 20 years, the occupational safety and health community has relied on skin notations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to warn workers about the health hazards of skin exposures to chemicals. These notations have proved to be useful risk management tools for occupational health professionals concerned about protecting workers from injuries and illnesses caused by skin contact with chemicals. However, according to the definition, a NIOSH skin notation may be assigned to a chemical only if that substance has been scientifically determined to be dermally absorbed. The current, widespread practice of using a skin notation to indicate that a substance poses other health effects, such as skin irritation, following any kind of skin exposure is inaccurate and misleading. The new strategy for assigning the NIOSH skin notations was designed to preserve the conventional wisdom about them and also to address the issues associated with their historic misuse-including their assignment to nonsystemic effects. This system provides a framework for assigning multiple skin notations that incorporates the current scientific database on workplace chemicals and dermal toxicity. The new system warns users about the direct, systemic, and sensitizing effects of exposures of the skin to chemicals. The labeling of a chemical with a hazard-specific skin notation (and in some cases multiple notations) will greatly enhance the quality of hazard communication and the associated risk management process. The new strategy outlined in this CIB also corresponds with the classification strategy adopted in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) developed by the United Nations.


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For more than 20 years, the occupational safety and health community has relied on skin notations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to warn workers about the health hazards of skin exposures to chemicals. These notations have proved to be useful risk management tools for occupational health professionals concerned about protecting worke For more than 20 years, the occupational safety and health community has relied on skin notations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to warn workers about the health hazards of skin exposures to chemicals. These notations have proved to be useful risk management tools for occupational health professionals concerned about protecting workers from injuries and illnesses caused by skin contact with chemicals. However, according to the definition, a NIOSH skin notation may be assigned to a chemical only if that substance has been scientifically determined to be dermally absorbed. The current, widespread practice of using a skin notation to indicate that a substance poses other health effects, such as skin irritation, following any kind of skin exposure is inaccurate and misleading. The new strategy for assigning the NIOSH skin notations was designed to preserve the conventional wisdom about them and also to address the issues associated with their historic misuse-including their assignment to nonsystemic effects. This system provides a framework for assigning multiple skin notations that incorporates the current scientific database on workplace chemicals and dermal toxicity. The new system warns users about the direct, systemic, and sensitizing effects of exposures of the skin to chemicals. The labeling of a chemical with a hazard-specific skin notation (and in some cases multiple notations) will greatly enhance the quality of hazard communication and the associated risk management process. The new strategy outlined in this CIB also corresponds with the classification strategy adopted in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) developed by the United Nations.

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