OSHA comments from the January 19, 1989 Final Rule on Air Contaminants Project extracted from 54FR2332 et. seq. This rule was remanded by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the limits are not currently in force.

CAS: 112-62-9; Chemical Formula: Al2O3

OSHA formerly regulated emery under the Agency’s generic 15-mg/m3 total particulate limit for all particulates. The ACGIH has a limit of 10 mg/m3 TWA, total dust, for emery containing less than 1 percent quartz. The proposed total particulate PEL was 10 mg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA, and the final rule establishes this limit and retains the 5-mg/m3 PEL for the respirable fraction. Emery is impure corundum (aluminum oxide), and is found in certain mineralogical deposits.

Emery dust inhalation is believed to have contributed to a case of pneumoconiosis in France, although it is questionable whether this incident was caused by emery dust alone or by the silica impurities in the dust (Archives des Maladies Professionelles de Medecin du Travail et de Securite Sociale 1970, as cited in ACGIH 1986/Ex. 1-3, p. 229). Exposure to emery dust containing less than 1 percent silica produces little, if any, effect on the health of exposed workers; it does not affect the lungs or produce organic disease at commonly encountered levels (ACGIH 1986/Ex. 1-3, p. 229).

NIOSH (Ex. 8-47) notes that rats exposed to aluminum oxide developed lipoid pneumonia (Stacy, King, Harrison et al. 1959/Ex. 1-761) and that humans so exposed have reported skin and respiratory tract irritation. Based on these data, NIOSH (Ex. 8-47, Table N4) does not concur with OSHA in the establishment of this PEL for emery. No other comments on this substance were received by the Agency.

In the final rule, OSHA is establishing a PEL of 10 mg/m3 TWA, total particulate, and retaining the PEL of 5 mg/m3, respirable particulate, for emery. OSHA concludes that these limits will prevent the significant risk associated with exposures to emery in the workplace; these risks include skin and upper-respiratory-tract irritation and, perhaps, other respiratory effects, all of which constitute material health impairments.

Page last reviewed: September 28, 2011