The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations require employers to monitor formaldehyde or xylene vapor concentrations in any area of the laboratory where these chemicals are being used. OSHA defines the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and requires that the laboratory keeps records of results as well as remedial action taken when exposure limits are exceeded.
With formaldehyde, initial monitoring is performed to identify workers who have been exposed to vapors that meet or exceed the defined short-term average exposure (STEL) limit. Based on results, repeated, periodic monitoring may be required. Initial monitoring must be repeated any time there is a change in things such as production, equipment, or process that may result in new or additional exposure to formaldehyde.
Xylene must be monitored initially, but there is no requirement for periodic monitoring of xylene.
Associates should immediately report symptoms to management for care and follow up if they are concerned about exposure. Symptoms may include respiratory signs or dermal conditions. Associates may also request monitoring by the laboratory to ensure that formalin levels are within safe limits.