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Bad Medicine? Acting OSHA Head Raises Peracetic Acid Use as Ongoing Concern in Poultry Industry

At a recent national safety conference for the industry, the acting head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remarked that the agency is focusing on the use of peracetic acid in the poultry industry. 

Peracetic acid, known in the industry as PAA, is an incredibly effective anti-microbial disinfectant, and its use has become widespread in meat-processing industries, including the poultry processing industry.  PAA is very reactive and breaks down quickly into acetic acid, which is commonly found in vinegar.  Even though OSHA currently does not have a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for PAA, it has not stopped the agency from issuing Rapid Response letters and General Duty Clause citations to employers for what it deems to be high exposures. 

In remarks delivered at the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry on August 13, 2018, Loren Sweatt, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor and acting head of OSHA, noted that PAA exposure is an ongoing concern for OSHA. Her full remarks can be found here. Secretary Sweatt stated that the agency is attempting to develop an air sampling method using a liquid medium to obtain what it believes are accurate results for PAA exposure.  Once OSHA develops an accurate sampling method, one can reasonably expect it to promulgate a specific PEL for PAA as the next step in OSHA enforcement. 

We will keep you posted with further developments. 

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