European Commission Setting New PELs for Five Carcinogens

According to the commission, the new limits would improve working conditions for more than 1 million EU workers and prevent more than 22,000 cases of work-related illness, including cancers.

The European Commission proposed new exposure limits on April 5 for five cancer-causing chemicals, in addition to 21 substances that have already been limited or proposed to be limited, in the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. These limit values set a maximum concentration for the presence of a cancer-causing chemical in workplace air.

According to the commission, the new limits would improve working conditions for more than 1 million EU workers and prevent more than 22,000 cases of work-related illness, including cancers.

The chemicals are:

  • Cadmium and its inorganic compounds
  • Beryllium and inorganic beryllium compounds
  • Arsenic acid and its salts, as well as inorganic arsenic compounds
  • Formaldehyde
  • 4,4'-Methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA)

"Today, the commission has taken another important step towards fighting work-related cancer and other relevant health problems on the work floor. We propose to limit workers' exposure to five additional cancer-causing chemicals," said Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. "This will improve protection for over 1 million workers in Europe and help create a healthier and safer workplace, which is a core principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights."

The first three carcinogens are used extensively in sectors such as cadmium production and refining, nickel-cadmium battery manufacture, mechanical plating, zinc and copper smelting, foundries, glass, laboratories, electronics, chemicals, construction, health care, plastics, and recycling.

The commission said the proposed limits are based on scientific evidence and follow broad discussions with relevant stakeholders, in particular employers, workers, and Member States' representatives.

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