Within the everyday, mundane task of industrial cleaning, cold cleaners are often hailed as the go-to solution for efficiently removing stubborn dirt and grime. However, many organisations are not wholly aware of the hidden dangers that come along with using these seemingly harmless cleaners. Let's delve deep into the risks and hazards associated with cold cleaners in the industrial cleaning process.
From skin irritation to respiratory problems, the chemicals found in cold cleaners can pose serious health risks to workers. In addition, improper handling and storage of these cleaners can lead to potentially disastrous consequences such as fires or explosions. It is essential for employers and employees alike to be aware of these hidden dangers and to take appropriate safety precautions when using cold cleaners in their industrial cleaning procedures.
Let's uncover the truth behind cold cleaners and shed light on how to mitigate the risks involved. Don't let the ease of efficient cold cleaning liquids leave you blindsided to the potential hazards that lurk beneath the surface.
Common cold cleaners used in the industrial cleaning process
Before we look into the hidden dangers of cold cleaners, let's first understand the common types of cold cleaners used in the industrial cleaning process. Cold cleaners are typically solvents or cleaning agents that are applied to surfaces to remove contaminants such as oil, grease, or dirt. They are called "cold" cleaners because they do not require heat to be effective.
One of the most commonly used cold cleaners is trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE is a powerful solvent that is known for its ability to dissolve a wide range of contaminants. Another popular cold cleaner is perchloroethylene (PCE), which is often used in dry cleaning processes. These chemicals, along with many others, have become integral parts of the industrial cleaning process due to their effectiveness.
However, it is important to note that these chemicals, despite their cleaning capabilities, can pose serious risks to both human health and the environment.
Understanding the hidden dangers of cold cleaners
When it comes to the hidden dangers of cold cleaners, there are two main aspects to consider: the health risks associated with their use and the environmental impacts they can have. Let's explore each of these aspects in detail.
Health Risks Associated with Cold Cleaners
The chemicals found in cold cleaners can pose serious health risks to workers who come into contact with them. One of the most common health issues associated with cold cleaners is skin irritation. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause dryness, redness, and even chemical burns. In some cases, workers may develop allergic reactions or dermatitis as a result of repeated exposure.
In addition to skin irritation, cold cleaners can also lead to respiratory problems. Inhalation of the vapours or fumes emitted by these cleaners can irritate the respiratory tract, leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals may even cause more serious respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis.
Environmental Impacts of Cold Cleaners
Apart from the health risks, cold cleaners can also have significant environmental impacts. These chemicals can contaminate soil and water sources if not properly disposed of. When cold cleaners are washed down drains or released into the environment, they can enter the ecosystem and harm aquatic life. Moreover, some cold cleaners are persistent in the environment, meaning they do not easily break down and can remain present in the environment for a long time, causing long-term damage.
In addition, the VOCs emitted from cold cleaners lead to poor outdoor air quality, causing ground level ozone or smog - a contributory factor in asthma and other respiratory problems as well as to the major environmental crisis that is global warming.
Health risks associated with cold cleaners
Given the risks associated with cold cleaners, it is important to explore safer alternatives in the industrial cleaning process. One option is to switch to water-based cleaners, such as BIO-CIRCLE CB 100 and BIO-CIRCLE L which can both act as a direct replacement to cold cleaners.
They provide powerful cleaning across a multitude of applications in industry, without the associated health and environmental hazards. Our water-based cleaners are safer for both human health and the environment, based on the process of bioremediation (a natural process that is simply sped up). Our cleaners do not emit harmful fumes such as VOCs (or very minimal levels), are non-hazardous and much more pleasant for your workforce to use daily. They are also just as effective as cold cleaners in removing contaminants when used properly, having been formulated from over 35 years of research and development.
Case studies - the risks of using cold cleaners
To illustrate the potential hazards associated with cold cleaners, let's take a look at a few real-life case studies.
Case Study 1: The Factory Fire
In 2016, a manufacturing plant experienced a devastating fire that resulted in extensive damage and the loss of several lives. The fire was traced back to the improper storage and handling of cold cleaners. The chemicals, which were stored in a flammable area, ignited and quickly spread, engulfing the entire facility. This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of proper storage and handling procedures when dealing with cold cleaners.
Case Study 2: Worker Health Issues
In another case, a group of workers in a metal fabrication shop developed severe respiratory problems after prolonged exposure to cold cleaners containing toxic chemicals. Several workers were diagnosed with occupational asthma, and their conditions worsened over time. This case highlights the long-term health risks associated with exposure to cold cleaners and the importance of implementing preventive measures to protect workers' health.
Case Study 3: Skin Irritation and Chemical Burns
In a manufacturing facility, workers were using a cold cleaner to remove grease from machinery parts. However, due to improper training and lack of PPE, several workers experienced skin irritation and chemical burns. The cleaners contained harsh chemicals that were not suitable for direct contact with the skin. This case highlights the importance of providing workers with proper training and protective gear to prevent such incidents.
Case Study 4: Respiratory Problems and Airborne Contamination
In another case, a cleaning crew in a food processing plant used a cold cleaner containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) without proper ventilation. As a result, workers inhaled the fumes, leading to respiratory problems and long-term health issues. It is crucial to ensure adequate ventilation and use cleaners with lower VOC content to prevent airborne contamination and safeguard the respiratory health of workers.
Case Study 5: Fire and Explosion Hazards
Improper handling and storage of cold cleaners can also lead to potentially disastrous consequences. In one instance, a cleaning company stored multiple containers of cold cleaners near a heat source, which caused a chemical reaction and resulted in a fire. Such incidents can be avoided by properly storing the cleaners in designated areas away from ignition sources and following proper handling procedures.
Alternatives to cold cleaners in industrial cleaning - benefits for compliance
To ensure the safe use of cold cleaners in the industrial cleaning process, regulatory bodies have established guidelines and regulations. These regulations aim to protect workers' health and safety, as well as the environment. It is essential for employers to familiarise themselves with these regulations and comply with them. Additionally, regular inspections and audits should be conducted to assess compliance and identify areas for improvement.
Switching to non-hazardous cleaners such as BIO-CIRCLE automatically meets or negates compliance requirements. In fact, over 80% of our cleaners are label-free! BIO-CIRCLE systems and cleaners significantly reduce waste and the associated costs and implications of managing it.
Conclusion and recommendations for safer industrial cleaning practices
In conclusion, the hidden dangers of cold cleaners in industrial cleaning processes should not be overlooked. The chemicals found in these cleaners can pose serious health risks to workers and have significant environmental impacts if not handled and disposed of properly. To ensure the safety and well-being of workers and the environment, it is crucial for employers to consider safer alternatives, implement best practices for handling and disposal, comply with regulations, and provide adequate training and protective equipment.
By staying informed and taking appropriate safety precautions, we can mitigate the risks involved in the industrial cleaning process and create a safer working environment for all. BIO-CIRCLE cleaners are a direct replacement for cold-cleaners, without compromising on cleaning power or efficiency. Book your free site survey today for a process optimisation strategy specific to your facility.