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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Minor metals,   pp. 1033-1050 PDF (2.1 MB)

Page 1033

  1033Minor Metals 
By Staff, Section of Nonferrous Metals 
- C~ium and rubidium_________ 
 Demand for arsenic trioxide exceeded supply in 1978 and 1979, and the major
domestic and foreign producers allocated available supplies to customers.
Major demand has been from the cotton-growing and wood-preserving industries.
 Ample supplies of arsenic metal produced in the United States and Sweden
were available in 1978 and 1979. Major demand for metal was from the automobile
battery industry in Japan, Europe, and the United States. 
 Legislation and Government Programs.—The Occupational Safety and
Administration (OSHA), promulgated the final standard on the occupational
exposure to inorganic arsenic, effective August 1, 1978.2 The need for the
standard was a result of OSHA's conclusion that inorganic arsenic is a human
carcinogen. The purpose of the standard was to minimize the incidence of
lung cancer among workers exposed to inorganic arsenic. The maximum exposure
to arsenic was lowered from the previous ceiling of 500 micrograms per cubic
meter of air to 10 micrograms per cubic meter over an 8-hour time period.
OSHA had originally recommended a ceiling limit of 4 micrograms per cubic
meter in January 1975. Provisions of the new standard require exposed employees
to wear respirators and undergo continuous medical moni 
toring. Other provisions establish regulated areas limited to authorized
employees and require the construction of special lunchroom and worker hygiene
facilities and the posting of signs and labels warning of the presence of
arsenic. The new arsenic standard will have a significant economic impact
on copper, zinc, gold, and lead smelters as well as consumers of arsenic
trioxide. A number of copper companies have joined together to contest the
standard in court. However, measures to comply with the standard have been
initiated by ASARCO Incorporated at its Tacoma, Wash. plant. 
 Under provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority to regulate
the manufacture of wood preservatives. On October 18, 1978, EPA issued a
notice of Rebuttable Presumption Against Regist'ration (RPAR). RPAR requires
manufacturers of wood preservatives, including creosote, pentachlorophenol
(PCP), and arsenical compounds to submit to EPA any additional information
regarding any adverse effects that come to the manufacturer's attention at
any time.3 Issuance of this RPAR means that adverse effects that can be associated
with the use of inorganic arsenic have been identified and that a public
review process of its risks and benefits will begin. The RPAR does not 

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