Regulatory tools for managing chemicals risk at the workplace

Sammanfattning: This thesis focuses on exacerbating chemicals risk in workplaces under the background of rapid industrialization in developing countries. The overall aim is to investigate the development of regulatory tools which aim at minimizing the health risks from chemical substances in the workplace. The contents of the thesis are divided into three sections: the profile of occupational diseases in China (paper I), occupational exposure limits (paper II and III), and comparison between chemicals regulat ions in Europe and China (paper IV).Paper I presents an analysis of the development of occupational diseases in China between 2000 and 2010. The number of recorded cases of occupational diseases increased rapidly in China during this period and the majority of cases were attributable to dust and other chemicals exposures. Difficulties in diagnosis and inefficient surveillance are major impediments to the proper identification and mitigation of occupational diseases. Migrant workers are extremely vulnerable to occupational hazards.Paper II investigates the state of harmonization of OELs between twenty-five OEL systems in Europe and Asia. The majority of the investigated organizations declare themselves to have been influenced by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and in many cases this can be empirically confirmed. However, large international differences still exist in substance selection and in the level of OELs among organizations.Paper III explores the setting of risk-based OELs on non-threshold carcinogens. Relatively few agencies set risk-based OELs. Differences exist in policy, both regarding the magnitude of risk considered as tolerable or acceptable and whether a general risk level or case-by-case substance-specific risk levels are determined. In regards to the level of the OELs both differences in science and policy contribute, and it was not possible to determine which has the larger influence.Paper III explores the setting of risk-based OELs on non-threshold carcinogens. Relatively few agencies set risk-based OELs. Differences exist in policy, both regarding the magnitude of risk considered as tolerable or acceptable and whether a general risk level or case-by-case substance-specific risk levels are determined. In regards to the level of the OELs both differences in science and policy contribute, and it was not possible to determine which has the larger influence.Paper IV systematically compares the regulation systems for chemicals in the EU and China in terms of substances covered, requirement on information, risk assessment and risk management. It shows that the European and Chinese chemicals legislations are remarkably similar.The differences are larger in terms of substance coverage and data requirements than in terms of risk assessment and management. Substitution of hazardous substances is driven more by updates of the EU regulatory system than of the Chinese system. 

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