Among the 2007 collection of published articles from the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association (JAWMA) was one from the University of California, Davis on emissions from stainless- and mild-steel welding. Using new experimental techniques, the group confirmed (approximately) the EPA’s prior AP-42 data for hexavalent chrome, Cr(VI), emissions from stick and gas welding (using ~18% chromium electrodes) to be approximately 0.2 and 0.02 g Cr(VI)/kg of electrode, respectively, and found Cr(VI) to be undetectable during welding of mild steel (with chrome-free electrodes). These findings are of interest for public and occupational health because inhalation exposure to high concentrations of Cr(VI) in certain industries has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

Probably the most interesting material for history buffs is a pair of review articles that appeared in the June 2007 issue. A former EPA associate director and the AWMA Review Committee put together perspectives (with 285 citations) on air quality during the organization’s first hundred years.[[1],[2]] The century was divided into periods based on the focus of the abatement efforts: the “smoke era” (1900-1950); the foundation of Air Quality Management (1950-1960); the pre-EPA period (1960-1970); and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards era (1971-present). The authors hailed the discovery of the photochemical smog cycle in the 1950s as well as the absolute reductions in air emissions that have occurred concurrently with increases in population, energy consumption and gross domestic product from the 1970s forward. Other topics of interest include health effects, regional haze, acid rain, air toxics and emissions trading. A worthy read for all.

Look for this Environmental & Safety column in its entirety on our homepage.