The rate at which new chemicals are being introduced into commerce significantly outpaces occupational exposure limit (OEL) development, creating a need for risk guidance on thousands of chemicals that lack evidence-based exposure limits. Occupational exposure banding is a process of assigning chemicals into specific categories or bands based on a chemical's potency and the adverse health outcomes associated with exposure. The output of this process is an occupational exposure band (OEB), which corresponds to a range of exposure concentrations that is expected to protect worker health (Figure 1). Not to be confused with control banding (which gives guidance on control measures), the proposed NIOSH occupational exposure banding process uses available, but often limited, toxicological data to determine a potential range of exposure levels to chemicals to guide risk management decisions. For more information on occupational exposure banding please refer to the NIOSH occupational exposure banding topic page: Occupational Exposure Banding.

Illustration of A-E bands

Figure 1: Occupational Exposure Bands (OEBs) define the range of exposures expected to be protective of worker health. The bands range from band A to band E. Band E represents the lowest range of exposure concentrations, while band A represents the highest range [McKernan et al. 2016].

To assist users of the occupational exposure banding process, an e-Tool has been developed. The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding e-Tool will allow users to apply toxicology and potency information to generate quantitative exposure guidance for chemicals. Users of the e-Tool are provided a series of screens which allow them to input toxicological information on nine different health endpoints related to exposure to the chemical that they are evaluating. The e-Tool provides links to publicly available databases and resources to aid the user in search of data. Once entered, the e-Tool compares the data to predefined NIOSH criteria and supplies an OEB that corresponds to a range of exposure concentrations. Ultimately, the e-Tool facilitates the use of the draft occupational exposure banding process and eliminates the need to go through the process manually.

   Technical Report: The NIOSH Occupational Exposure Banding Process for Chemical Risk Management

Page last reviewed: September 21, 2021
Page last updated: September 21, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health  Division of Science Integration