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What Are Volatile Organic Compounds And How Do They Affect Parts Cleaning Methods?

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Volatile Organic Compounds are sizable collections of carbon-based chemicals that immediately evaporate into the air. This can compromise worker safety due to the harmful effects of inhaling certain chemicals. Some VOCs posses less threatening elements in smaller uses such as air fresheners and cleaning supplies. However, stronger VOCs that are used on a regular basis, such as industries that require parts washing, can start to envelop the work area and make the air harmful to breathe. 

What Are The Risks Of VOC Exposure?

The risks can range depending on how much of the chemicals are in the air and how long the person is exposed to it. According to Minnesota Department Of Health, Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people’s risk of health problems. These are much different exposures than occupational exposures to VOCs which can cause even higher risks due to longer exposure. Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects.

Common symptoms of exposure for short-term to high levels of chemicals are:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

 

Common symptoms for long-term to high levels of chemicals are:

  • Cancer
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage 
  • Central Nervous System Damage

Parts Cleaning Methods

An industry that requires parts cleaning may need to meet specific regulations. Therefore, it’s important to select the best washer and solutions to provide the most effective clean and offer a safe work environment. 

Petroleum Cleaning Solvents 

These solvents have proved to be very effective but continue to raise significant environmental, health, and economic concerns. According to Thurston County Business Pollution Prevention Program, petroleum solvents can be costly and potentially toxic to dispose of making it an effective solvent for cleaning but hazardous during the aftermath. The VOCs are toxic enough to increase the risk of cancer for the people who are involved. Employers can try and control the exposure but petroleum solvents evaporate quickly making the process difficult. Overall, a business will still spend more during the disposal process as well as that these solvents sometimes leave residue that needs for the parts to be washed again. 

Aqueous Cleaning Solutions

According to United States Environmental Protection Agency, aqueous cleaners are water-based solutions that, unlike petroleum based solvents, are typically nonflammable and contain little or no VOCs. Instead of dissolving grease and solids, aqueous cleaners rely on heat, agitation, and soap action to break dirt into smaller particles. Although they clean differently, aqueous cleaners perform as well as solvents. A lot of businesses have switched to aqueous cleaning solvents because it is a safer work environment solution and the disposal process is simpler and less hazardous than other solvents. 

JenFab | Aqueous Cleaning Products

JenFab’s comprehensive aqueous cleaning product line ranges from small-footprint cellular washes, to large, fully automated vertical agitation and rotation or spray-immersion washers. The washers can also be equipped with a wide variety of options, such as chip collection, chip removal, oil skimming or oil coalescing, and high volume filtration. The result is 100% clean and dry parts, with higher throughput than competing systems. These machines utilize aqueous solutions for an effective clean and safe work environment without the harmful inhalation of VOCs. 

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