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Using Zero VOC Cleaning Solvents: An Overview

If you enter an industrial work environment where chemical solvents are in use, you might get a strong whiff of something that smells like a cross between manmade chemicals and highly odoriferous natural substances. There’s a good chance that what you smell is a mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are naturally occurring or manmade organic compounds whose volatility frequently makes them gasify quite quickly at room temperature.

Dangers of VOC Exposure

When it comes to the effects of VOC exposure in humans, VOCs are similar to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that don’t have an organic formulation. Short-term exposure can cause symptoms such as upset stomach, difficulty breathing, and watery eyes. Long-term exposure can potentially cause permanent nerve damage, neurological problems, and even cancer.

The dangers of VOC exposure hold negative consequences for companies as well as their workers. Short-term exposure to VOCs can lead to an increase in sick days taken, which hampers productivity; and long-term VOC exposure commonly results in workers compensation claims chemical injury lawsuits. For companies and their workers, using zero VOC cleaning solvents to replace solvents that contain hazardous VOCs is win-win situation.

Buying Zero VOC Solvents

In terms of sheer product selection, industrial solvents that have low VOC content are generally easier to find than ones that contain no VOCs. However, zero VOC cleaning solvents have become more popular in recent years, as the EPA and OSHA have taken an increasingly firm stance on regulating the use of dangerous chemicals in the workplace, and businesses have taken cost cutting to a new level to help offset losses from the recession.

One of our own products, Eco-Spray ZV-2 – Zero VOC Cleaner Degreaser, is a good example of a flexible, zero VOC solvent that can be used for various applications. In addition to purchasing readymade solvents, there’s also the option of having zero VOC cleaning solvents made from scratch to address your unique requirements. Regardless of which type of product you choose, one thing is certain: Your operation stands to benefit from improved workplace safety.

Low VOC Cost Saving Benefits

Even when a zero VOC cleaning solvent costs more than a VOC solvent it could replace, there are still some important cost saving benefits to be had from making the switch. In addition to helping decrease sick days taken and avoid workers compensation claims and injury lawsuits, using zero VOC solvents can help companies avoid fines for emission cap violations, avoid using the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, and operate the air filtration system that removes airborne contaminants more efficiently.

Who We Are

At Ecolink, we specialize in developing industrial cleaning solvents that are environmentally safe and environmentally preferred. In addition to providing readymade solutions, we also formulate custom blends that can be supplied for as long as you need them. If your company or organization is in the market for zero VOC cleaning solvents, we can provide them. To start exploring your options, please call us today at (800) 563-1305, or use our contact form.

NPB-health-risks

Understanding Cleaning Solvents: What is a Volatile Solvent?

By technical definition, volatile solvents are substances that demonstrate a high degree of volatility in one or more contexts for one or more reasons. A volatile solvent can be classified in several ways, including: the agent in its formulation that causes volatility, whether the agent is manmade or organic, and the potential problems that the volatility is known to cause.

In this entry, we look at a particular class of volatile solvents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), defining what they are and discussing what can be done to limit the negative repercussions of their volatility to help protect human health, particularly in industrial work settings, where an unusually high volume of volatile solvent is used in a given period of time.

What Are Volatile Organic Compounds?

Volatile organic compounds — a term that is typically shortened to the initialism “VOC” — are organic chemicals that have a high evaporation rate at room temperature. For example, the VOC formaldehyde, which is frequently found in commercial paint, has a boiling point of –2 °F. This means that the chemical will rapidly evaporate when the paint can is opened or the paint is sprayed onto a surface using mechanical pressurization equipment or an aerosol solution.

Concerning their origin, VOCs can be separated into two broad classes: biologically generated (i.e., naturally occurring) and anthropogenic (i.e., made by humans). Both classes of VOCs are widely used in industrial work processes, from painting, to degreasing, to the application of protective coatings. Examples of VOCs that are commonly used in industrial settings — or were commonly used before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulated their use — are:

  • Benzene
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Chlorocarbons
  • Methylene chloride
  • Perchloroethylene
  • MTBE
  • Formaldehyde

Not all VOCs are as harmful to human health as others. For example, chronic exposure to benzene is strongly associated with cancer, whereas the biologically generated VOC myrcene has no such connection. However, when a VOC is harmful to human health but must nonetheless be used in industrial processes, the company or organization should implement a set of strict safety measures to protect workers from inhaling vapor from the substance.

Protecting Against Toxic VOC Exposure

Unlike exposure to destructive agents such as hydrochloric acid, which can cause immediate, permanent injury, persistent injuries from exposure to toxic VOCs often occur gradually — and the primary method of exposure that causes the injuries is well known: inhalation. Consequently, any work environment where a dangerous, volatile solvent is used should feature the following protective measures to help prevent workers from receiving health threatening injuries.

  • Ventilation system for filtering airborne contaminants
  • Personal protective equipment suitable for the level of exposure
  • Applying solvent in airtight cleaning systems if possible
  • Airtight solvent waste trap for preventing emissions

VOCs are sometimes misconstrued to be safe due to their organic nature, but this isn’t always the case. That is why it’s important to work with an experienced provider of industrial solvent solutions before you order a volatile solvent. If you need assistance selecting an industrial solvent for a specific cleaning operation or general cleaning, contact the solvent specialists at Ecolink today by calling (800) 563-1305, or refer to the contact page on our website.

Is your Company Using too Many VOC’s?

Because there is now a popular and rapidly growing concern pertaining to the use of harmful chemical solvents among industrial businesses, a large movement exists that compel these industrial businesses to make the transition to eco friendly, green alternative chemical solutions. With the incredible growth of the research and development that now provide green alternative chemical solutions to industrial businesses, these businesses need to be better tuned in to the available eco friendly options regarding green alternatives chemical solvents used for cleaning industrial parts, metals, and materials. Because there has been a flood of organic solutions available, an industrial business claiming it has not been apprised of available options is no longer an excuse. Claiming ignorance or overwhelming dependency on a particular chemical solvent, when that solvent has been deemed harmful by regulatory agencies, makes an industrial business look unprofessional to the public. Moreover, the unwillingness of an industrial business to transition to a safe chemical alternative makes a company look indifferent to the plight of hazardous chemical toxins being released on our people and the environment.

Concerning industrial cleaners, degreasers and chemical agents used to clean parts, metals, and materials, limiting air, water, and soil pollution by reducing or stopping the use of toxic industrial solvents, such as VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) cleaners must be a serious consideration for all industrial organizations. Because VOC cleaners have proven to be as dangerous as most other potentially hazardous industrial cleaning brands, businesses that use VOCs need begin considering seriously regulating it usage, perhaps even eliminating it. Since air pollution is endangering our entire planet, thinning the ozone layer, causing abnormal diseases affecting plant and wildlife, as well as causing people to become ill, industrial organizations using VOC cleaners need to immediately switch to eco friendly, green alternative chemical options. At the very least, these industrial businesses ne to look into using low VOC cleaners, because it offers the chance to limit air, water, and soil pollution, all at once.

If your industrial business wants more information on how to transition from a VOC cleaner to a safer alternative, or to a low VOC cleaner and that can limit air, water, and soil pollution, consult with a representative from Ecolink as soon as possible. The professionals at Ecolink have been educating industrial businesses on how to limit air, soil, and water pollution through the use of eco friendly, green alternative cleaners, as well as low VOC cleaners, for a long time. In addition, Ecolink can provide detailed information on the myriad benefits and advantages to making the change to a safer alternative parts cleaner, and list how the new chemical solution will efficiently clean the parts, metals, and materials your industrial business uses. Making the transition to a safer, more effective chemical cleaning solution has never been easier, so please seek the help, guidance, and support offered by Ecolink.