Additive Effects of Organic Solvent Exposure-November 2014

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

November 2014

 IN THIS ISSUE: Additive Effects of Organic Solvent Exposure

Little is known about the toxicity threshold level when organic solvents are combined with other chemicals. Due to the additive effects of many organic solvents, comparing test results with occupational standards may not adequately protect workers. Because of regulations on exposure, engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and medical monitoring, exposure to organic solvents may be below occupational standards but still pose a threat.

It is well known that many organic solvents can irritate and damage the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, have a narcotic effect, and cause damage to the liver, kidneys and other internal organs. These solvents can affect the nervous system, cause cancer, and may affect reproduction. Effects can be acute and/or chronic and routes of entry include skin contact, inhalation, ingestion, and injection.

Employees may use multiple solvents during a work shift. In addition, mixtures of solvents are used in the painting, degreasing, and solvent extraction processes employed in many industries. Exposure to more than one chemical can have a synergistic effect and, or even potentiation, meaning the effect of two chemicals is greater than the sum of the effects of each. Behavioral effects have occurred to gasoline workers from exposure to mixtures of solvents and additive effective can occur to workers exposed to organic solvents and lead.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or contact us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

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