Last reviewed 16 November 2023

The European Parliament and the EU’s Member States have provisionally agreed on limit values for lead and diisocyanates.

After the meeting, Yolanda Díaz, acting Spanish Minister for Labour, said: “It is the first time in 40 years that we are revising the limit values for occupational exposure to lead, and the first time ever to introduce limit values for diisocyanates. A few months ago, we struck a deal to protect EU workers from asbestos. This provisional agreement is another milestone towards ensuring a safe green transition for all workers in the EU.”

The negotiators agreed on the core of a draft directive which will introduce limit values for the two groups of substances.

They agreed with the European Commission that the occupational exposure limit (OEL) for lead should be lowered from 0.15mg/m3 to 0.03mg/m3, and the biological limit value for lead from 70µg/100ml to 15µg/100ml.

They also aligned with the Commission’s proposal on setting the first-ever overall occupational exposure limit for diisocyanates at 6µg NCO/m3 (that is, the maximum concentration in the air a worker breathes during the course of an eight-hour working day) and a short-term exposure limit of 12µg NCO/m3 (the average exposure over a period of 15 minutes).

The co-legislators also agreed on a transitional period for the new biological limit value for lead (until 31 December 2028) in order to ensure that Member States have sufficient time to effectively update production processes and to implement the necessary prevention and protection measures.

The provisional agreement will now have to be endorsed by the Council and the Parliament and will then be formally adopted by both institutions. The draft text can be found here.