Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: Alternatives to Chlorinated Solvents
Chlorinated solvents, commonly used for degreasing and paint-stripping, are toxic, both to people and the environment. They are all considered occupational carcinogens with serious health effects and are regulated by OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The most common types of chlorinated solvents are methylene chloride, trichlorethylene, and perchlorethylene.
- Methylene chloride: Used as a paint stripper. It is a severe irritant to the eyes and skin upon contact and to the respiratory system if inhaled. Chronic exposure can damage the lungs, nervous system, and mucous membranes.
- Perchloroethylene: Used as a dry cleaning solvent and as a cleaner in vapor degreasers. If vapors are not adequately controlled, it causes irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and respiratory system. Chronic exposure can damage the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver.
- Trichlorethylene: Most heavily used chlorinated solvent degreaser in industry. Causes damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory system, heart, liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
“The key to protecting workers and the environment from chlorinated solvents is finding viable alternatives,” explains Gary R. Ticker, CIH, CSP. “The aviation industry has done just that – which is a surprising feat coming from an industry that has always been reluctant to make changes that could affect flight safety.”
The aviation industry’s alternatives to chlorinated solvents are effective and safe. They include:
- Aqueous cleaners such as d-limonene may be substituted for trichloroehylene and perchloroehtylene.
- Ammonia-based materials such as triethanolamine may be substituted for methylene chloride.
- Various types of mechanical stripping may be substituted for methylene chloride.
Protecting workers and the environment from degreasing and paint-stripping chemicals can be achieved by following the lead of companies that have found safe and effective alternatives.
OccuSafe Environmental and 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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