Eco Friendly Solvents: How to Find a Suitable Alternative

ByTimothy Byron

Eco friendly products are taking the market by storm as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to increase awareness regarding the effects of using toxic cleaners and materials. Volatile Organic Compounds also called VOCs are solvent composites which get released into the air under normal temperature conditions. The liquid evaporates into gas form without any additional temperature or environmental change. Their low boiling point makes it easy for many molecules to enter the air as evaporation occurs. Paint is a good example because the formaldehyde slowly evaporates while it is sitting idle. VOCs are very dangerous to people, animals, and the environment. They can be found in either natural or man-made compounds. Use of these substances in doors is regulated because the release concentration is higher. Long term health conditions can develop from extended exposure. Skin, eye, or throat irritations are the short term signs of inhalation. Eco friendly solvents labeled low-VOC or no-VOC are a safer alternative to many of the standard cleaning solutions used today by businesses.

Industrial Solvents: Choosing a Safe and Functional Cleaner

Industrial solvents have evolved to include options with high performance capabilities but reduced negative effects. Paints, strippers, cleaners, pesticides, and adhesives are examples of VOC emitting products. Most emit at least a small amount into the air when used and stored. Pollutant levels may remain in the air for an extended period of time after usage. Industrial facilities are a setting where compound release can be very high. Automotive, aeronautic, and military environments consistently use degreasers or cleaners. The EPA provides specific regulations regarding types of chemicals including restrictions on certain organic solvents. Eco-friendly alternatives make it easier for a business to meet guidelines and still obtain needed performance.

Finding a replacement for high VOC industrial solvents should be the first step a business takes to increase safety in the workplace. This step forward also creates a better green image for a business. Reduced costs are a direct result of limited compound release and minimal hazard clean up. A business can take other measures to reduce VOC release as well. Ventilation should always meet if not exceed the solvent recommendations. Store containers appropriately, ensure workers handle them as specified, and dispose of all used solvent according to requirements. Organic compounds are most dangerous in an enclosed environment. The EPA estimates indoor concentrations to average one thousand times more than measured outdoors.

Testing of eco friendly solvents occurs prior to the inclusion of color additives. These also emit organic compounds and can increase the amount released into the air from each solvent. This is important to keep in mind when selecting an alternative cleaner for business or home use. Water-based solvents have lower VOC levels and green products do not add additional compounds to the air during use. An industrial facility in most scenarios cannot use water-based products due to the nature of the cleaning. They are being utilized to clean parts susceptible to corrosion or rusting when exposed to water. These environments must use a chemical based solution that may be substituted with a lower VOC product.

Industrial solvents are dangerous because they emit gas compounds during evaporation. Eco friendly solvents may be used in place of common products to reduce air contamination.

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