Mercury in the Workplace
Metallic mercury (also known as elemental mercury) is a potent neurotoxin that can cause health damage in very small amounts. Workers can be exposed to mercury if they breathe mercury vapor or have skin contact with it. They can also be exposed if instruments or equipment containing mercury break and release mercury-containing dust, liquid, or vapor. HESIS’s revised fact sheet on metallic mercury identifies work settings where workers can be exposed, describes serious health damage that can occur, and offers tips on working safely around mercury. The fact sheet also provides tips on cleaning up a mercury spill and resources for controlling mercury in the workplace.
Mercury in the Workplace fact sheet (PDF)
For more information on our work in this area, see Providing Practical Information on Chemical Hazards
Electronic Waste Recycling: Working Safely – Spanish fact sheet now available
Our society’s increasing appetite for the latest electronic equipment is fueling a growing electronic waste (e-waste) recycling industry. In e-waste recycling, workers may encounter unanticipated hazards that can result in injury, hearing loss, or exposure to toxic dusts and other chemicals. These hazards can cause serious and sometimes permanent health problems. This fact sheet—now available in Spanish-- describes the hazards that may occur in e-waste recycling and highlights actions companies can take to control hazards, as well as things workers can do to protect themselves.
Electronic Waste Recycling: Working Safely (PDF) … Spanish - fact sheet
Preventing Work-related Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)
Workers who disturb soil containing the Coccidioides immitis fungus and work in dusty outdoor areas are at risk for Valley Fever. Over 1000 Californians are hospitalized with this illness every year. About eight of every 100 people hospitalized with it die from the infection annually. Yet workplace health and safety plans often do not even mention Valley Fever, despite the fact that the illness can be disabling or fatal. Workers can be protected against this disease by the use of dust control measures and appropriate personal protective equipment. Now OHB has a web page featuring our prevention materials.
Preventing Work-related Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) – web page
NMP is a solvent known to the State of California to produce reproductive harm. In April 2014 Cal/OSHA adopted a new Permissible Exposure Limit of one part-per-million in air to reduce the risk of developmental effects in the offspring of exposed workers. Cal/OSHA also gave NMP an "S" (skin) designation, requiring employers to provide appropriate protective gloves, because NMP can be absorbed through intact skin. California is currently the only jurisdiction within the United States to regulate NMP exposures in workplace air. This revised HESIS health hazard advisory includes these regulatory changes and emphasizes the use of safer alternatives. It also contains an updated list of some commercial products with NMP as an ingredient.
N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) (PDF) – revised health hazard advisory
Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS) home page
Occupational Health Branch home page
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