Bad Data, and Compromised Limits, on Chromium

"This was a 10-year campaign to shape the science to fit the industry's agenda rather than shape the regulation to fit the science," Professor David Michaels said of industry attempts to avoid lower exposure limits for hexavalent chromium. In 2004, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed reducing the exposure limit set in 1943 more than fifty-fold. Michaels and other researchers "obtained internal documents through an industry foundation's bankruptcy proceedings that showed the industry representatives were aware in 2002 of an elevated cancer risk." They found that a study commissioned by the industry group Chrome Coalition, and carried out by ENVIRON, manipulated data to hide increased cancer risks at all but the highest exposure levels. Some 380,000 U.S. workers are exposed to chromium. An executive at the company Elementis Chromium denied an "orchestrated effort to hide anything," but said the data "may have not been handled well." OSHA finally set the new chromium exposure limit at one-tenth the old limit.