EPA and OSHA issued a chemical advisory because skin exposure to even small amounts of the heated liquid form of 2,4-Dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP) can cause rapid death to workers.
The substance, which is solid at room temperature, is used as a feedstock to make herbicides and some other chemical products.
The focus of concern is the potential risk to workers inside chemical plants and not risk to consumers or community members living near a facility.
The concern was initiated following a report EPA received of a worker death associated with exposure to the liquid form of 2,4-DCP in October 1998.
Investigation of the fatality showed that a similar worker death occurred in 1992 at a facility outside of the United States.
The agency identified other facilities that had reported past or present use of 2,4-DCP and sent out an early alert letter about the hazard in April 1999.
All of the cases have involved workers getting their skin splashed with the molten form of 2,4-DCP, followed quickly by collapse and death.
To raise awareness about the hazard and to provide recommendations for protecting workers, EPA worked with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety to develop an advisory, which is being sent to various groups, such as selected trade associations, labor unions, government agencies and international contacts.