Application of the Draft NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process to Bisphenol A: A case study

Bisphenol A is a commercially important chemical used to make polycarbonate plastic, epoxy resins, and other specialty products. Despite an extensive body of in vitro, animal and human observational studies on the effects of exposure to bisphenol A, no authoritative bodies in the U.S. have adopted or recommended occupational exposure limits for bisphenol A. In 2017, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published a Draft process for assigning health-protective occupational exposure bands, i.e., an airborne concentration range, to chemicals lacking an occupational exposure limit. Occupational exposure banding is a systematic process that uses both quantitative and qualitative toxicity information on selected health effect endpoints to assign an occupational exposure band for a chemical. The Draft process proposes three methodological tiers of increasing complexity for assigning an occupational exposure band. We applied Tier 1 (based on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling) and Tier 2 (based on authoritative sources/reviews) to assign an occupational exposure band to bisphenol A. Under both Tier 1 and 2, the occupational exposure band for bisphenol A was “E” (<0.01 mg/m3), an assignment based on eye damage. “E” is the lowest exposure concentration range, reserved for chemicals with high potential toxicity. If eye damage was excluded in assigning an air concentration exposure range, then bisphenol A would band as “D” (>0.01 to 0.1 mg/m3) under Tier 1 (based on reproductive toxicity and respiratory/skin sensitization) and under Tier 2 (based on specific target organ toxicity-repeated exposure). In summary, Tiers 1 and 2 gave the same occupational exposure band for bisphenol A when eye damage was included (“E”) or excluded (“D”) as an endpoint.