EU Moves to Update Rules to Protect Workers from Harmful Substances 
In November, the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament adopted the European Commission’s proposal to update rules related to occupational exposure to carcinogens or mutagens. The Commission proposed to set exposure limits for five additional cancer-causing substances, including cadmium and its inorganic compounds; beryllium and its inorganic compounds; arsenic acid and its salts, as well as inorganic arsenic compounds; formaldehyde; and 4,4'-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline), or MOCA. The Commission further proposed to establish skin notations for formaldehyde and MOCA.  The text adopted by the committee on Nov. 20 calls on the Commission to assess the option of extending the scope of the rules to include a list of hazardous drugs, including cytotoxic drugs, that are carcinogenic or mutagenic. The committee also asked the Commission to develop practical guidelines to put biological monitoring in place for cadmium and its inorganic compounds. According to the committee, biological monitoring can contribute to the protection of workers, “but only as a means of complementing the monitoring of the concentration for cadmium (and its inorganic compounds) in the air within the breathing zone of a worker.” The committee report is available on the European Parliament’s website (PDF). For more information, see the press release.  The next step is for the committee to enter negotiations with the Commission and the Council of the European Union.