Are There Safety & Disposal Concerns with Commercial Degreasers & Industrial Solvents?

The products used to remove oil, dirt, grease, or alternative types of contaminants from a surface during refinishing, cleaning or manufacturing processes create several concerns. Commercial degreasers can consist of a number of organic or non-organic volatile components and the choices a company makes in this area are important. A volatile organic compound or VOC is capable of experiencing a significant amount of pressure under normal temperature conditions and is easily released into the surrounding atmosphere. This extensive amount of pressure is a result of the low boiling point properties of a chosen solvent or degreaser. Cleaners with this property easily move from solid to gas form without requiring a change in their surrounding environment. Industrial solvents are able to be inhaled by individuals or released as harmful pollutants into the atmosphere and this makes them extremely dangerous. Recent product innovations greatly reduce the amount of risk and are becoming a better choice for companies who must regularly remove contaminants from surfaces.

What Are the Risks?

Cleaners with high VOC counts generate numerous health concerns when handled or disposed of inappropriately. They have been linked to respiratory and immune system complications as well as found to be a contributor to smog. Prolonged exposure to these compounds can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Liver Damage
  • Cancer
  • Skin Reactions
  • Coordination Issues
  • Central Nervous System Complications

Improper handling or disposal also causes VOCs to enter the air and affect the environment. The penetration of water sources, soil, or air by hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) can result in consumption by humans, animals, or plant life. These are the reasons for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommending that companies purchase and use products with minimal to low VOC counts.

What Characteristics Should Be Pursued In a Cleaner?

It is important to evaluate the purpose behind a commercial degreaser or industrial solvent and the usage period before making a selection. Companies who consistently use these products must be careful during the selection process as an increased amount of VOCs will naturally be emitted based on the chosen degreaser or solvent. Specific characteristics are essential before buying a product for long term use to ensure a safer working atmosphere and reduce environmental impact. The chosen solution should be an organic alternative designed to remove the desired type of contaminant. Despite popular belief, organic solutions are just as capable of supplying the same results as more toxic choices.

The selected product must have the lowest VOC count possible to limit the amount of vapors released into the atmosphere. Companies unable to use an organic alternative will be served best to seek a solution that is as safe as possible for the atmosphere. A higher flash point poses fewer dangers during storage and use when a flammable solution is necessary. Companies requiring a degreaser or solvent must take time to evaluate these properties to prevent future harm to their workers or the environment.

Industrial cleaners are necessary in a number of industries and play a pivotal safety role. For more information about environmentally friendly, low VOC products, please call (800) 886-8240 or email