In the current edition of Safeguard magazine Dr Andy Snell outlines some of the symptoms workers can exhibit when they are exposed to solvents.
What is the worst solvent exposure example you have encountered? What changes were made to fix the problem?
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Did one job where painters were as high as kites in the paint mixing area. This was because the vetilation system had been put in at floor level due to the mistaken belief that vapours, being heavier than air, went down so avoid the breathing zone. Monitoring and smoke tests showed that there was a large build up of solvent vapours in the air an dthat the air movemnet at head height was non-existant, except when someone moved. We called in a ventlation engeineer and together we modified and upgraded the system to such an extent that the follow up monitoring showed eveything was well under control and staff no longer had to wear respirators in the area. It was a team effort (as is often the case) to resolve this one involving the workers, mangement, ventolation engineer and myself.
When my father was a young fibreglass worker (many many years ago) he said they were fibreglassing the inside of a tank, and would take bets on who would last longest before passing out!!!
Back in a previous life I worked in a "cultured marble" factory. Both on the floor and as an installer - because I was the only one with a legal driving licence.
We made spa baths. Relatively simple: mix 3 tubs of resin with catalyst, add color, pour into mould.
All was good with our mixer guy (no respirator or air extraction) for the first two or three baths. But by bath number three his brain was getting a bit foggy and memory a bit hazy. So he often lost count and would end up pouring four tubs of resin.
That became my problem as an installer. Each tub of resin weighed around 50 kilos and two of us could manage an 150kg install - which involved manual handling the bath in a sling.
So now we had to mange a 200kg bath. In minus 36 degrees C, where our boots were Ice-on-ice, walking in residential construction sites up partially formed stairs with no banister or railing.
Eventually the ski season ended and I moved onto warmer and safer environments.
Hi. As a result of this post did anyone find a source of AX type respirator filters?
I'm particularly interested in the Sundstrom version (SR 298 AX) as that's the brand of mask we currently use.
AX filters are for organic gases with boiling point below 65 C.
Using masks - respirator filters to protect against a risk to health is a trap a lot of people fall into. There is a perception that they have a mask on so they are protected.
The filters in the masks need to be thought of like a sponge. If you have water to mop up the sponge will only pick up so much water. Once it is saturated then it will not absorb any more.
The same applies to filters on masks. It is possible that they reach end of life in hours of use.
The other risk is that filters on masks will not necessarily capture all solvents. Some solvents will not be trapped by the filters.
If you have a risk of exposure then using masks you need to know what the compounds are in the air and how much is being inhaled. With this information can get an idea on how filter is going to last and if the filter you are using will remove the solvents present.
How long it lasts will depend on a number of factors such as how much is there, the temperature, how hard a person is working.
The above assessment must be done by someone that understands the chemistry of what is going on and what is present in the air.
As always you are far better off by removing the risk and not needing masks.
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