For decades, asbestos exposure has been the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths in the world. In fact, approximately 90 million people around the world die of asbestos-related diseases each year, while an estimated 125 million people remain at risk of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Similarly, the use of traditional solvents is exposing countless workers to health and safety risks.

Next to the United Kingdom, Australia has the second-highest mesothelioma death rate in the world. An alarming 10,000 people have died in the country due to the disease since the early 1980s. In 2018 alone, nearly 700 Australians have died from mesothelioma.

On the other hand, such commonplace substances as solvents also pose significant hazards to human health. Whilst some information on the effects of these chemicals is available, what’s concerning is the fact that the ramifications of many types of solvents are yet to be fully known.

It’s quite common to find solvents in workplaces. These chemicals are regularly used in numerous industries for a variety of tasks including degreasing, adhesion, metal cleaning, lubricating, paint thinning or stripping. Solvents are also used for dissolving or diluting other substances.

The most common solvents in the workplace are petroleum-based chemicals and can be extremely hazardous.

How Solvent Exposure Happen

Solvent exposure can happen in 3 ways:

  • Inhalation: Most solvents evaporate very quickly and the fumes and vapours produced can easily enter the bloodstream when inhaled.
  • Ingestion: Contaminated hands or gloves can pass the solvents onto food or drinks and can result in the ingestion of these chemicals.
  • Skin Absorption: Solvents can be easily absorbed through the skin after direct contact.
  • Eye contact: Liquid solvents and solvent vapour can make contact with the eyes and cause irritation and inflammation.

How Solvents Affect Health

Solvents can affect human health in different ways, depending on the method and length of exposure as well as the type of solvent a person was exposed to.

Short-term effects


Those exposed to low levels of solvents can experience:

  • Skin irritations or dermatitis (drying, cracking, reddening or blistering of the affected area of skin)
  • Irritation of eyes
  • Irritation of lungs
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Poor coordination
  • Nausea

Long-term effects

Those with repeated exposure to particular solvents can experience:

  • Dermatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Neurological disease
  • Fertility issues (for both men and women)

The fetus in a pregnant woman can also be affected due to solvent exposure which may lead to miscarriage. Other solvents are known to cause cancer, such as benzene.

A study published in the British Journal of Cancer has found a link between parents’ exposure to chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene and brain tumours in their children.

In Australia, accidental poisoning due to exposure to substances such as organic solvents and gases as well as alcohol, comprised 16 percent of hospitalisation cases in 2017-2018.

In some cases, exposure to particular solvents resulted in sudden death.

At-Risk Workers


Solvents are present in most workplaces; however, workers engaged in the following may be particularly at risk due to the nature of their jobs:

  • Automotive and machine maintenance
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Cleaning
  • Construction
  • Dry cleaning
  • Footwear manufacturing
  • Furniture and wood manufacturing
  • Metal finishing
  • Painting or spray painting
  • Pesticide application
  • Plastics manufacturing
  • Printing
  • Semi-conductor industry

How to Protect Your Workers and Yourself

Businesses are expected to adhere to the Australian Code of Practice when managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. A Hierarchy of Actions ranks control measures from the most effective to least effective methods of controlling risk:

  1. Elimination of hazardous chemicals – removing the hazard if it’s something you can do without
  2. Substitution of hazardous chemicals – replacing the hazard with a safer alternative
  3. Isolation – use of barriers or distance to prevent or minimise risks
  4. Engineering controls – employing mechanisms or processes to reduce worker exposure to chemical hazards
  5. Administrative controls – employee training of protocols, use of PPEs and other safety precautions such as alarms, labels and signages

Safer Solvent

Our range of Purasolve Safety Solvents offers low-hazard alternatives to some of the most commonly used hazardous and dangerous industrial solvents. These products replace chemicals such as MEK, Acetone and other products containing benzene and its derivatives.

Pursolve Safety Solvents are the safest alternatives to solvents with their high flash points and low vapour pressures. Explore our range of solvents for applications including parts washing, paint equipment cleaning, surface preparation and brake cleaning.

With these solvent alternatives, not only are you protecting your workers from health and safety risks, but you are also free of exposure to any future litigation claims.

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Purasolve PWD is designed to clear up problems associated with paraffin and asphaltene. Purasolve PWD is a non-evaporative, non-petroleum biobased solvent developed to “thin or dissolve” paraffin and asphaltene deposits safely which improves pumping efficiency of crude oils. It is the ideal solution for paraffin wax in oil wells.

Benefits of Purasolve PWD

Purasolve PWD is a powerful non-evaporative solvent that can replace hazardous solvents. It is a new counteracting formulation comprised of plant-based ingredients. Contradictory to the traditional solvents, the benefits of Purasolve PWD include the following features:

  • Non-petroleum
  • Non-toxic – Safe for workers to use
  • Non-hazardous – Safe to transport and store
  • Non-flammable – Flashpoint 73° C (164° F)
  • Ultimately biodegradable – Safe for the environment
  • 100% Biobased – Derived from renewable resources
  • Removed in normal refining procedures

Purasolve PWD is a safe and effective substitute for eliminating paraffin and asphaltene deposits. It can be used as either a stand-alone solvent-based treatment or concurrently with hot oiling methods.

How Purasolve PWD Works

Purasolve PWD makes the hot-oiling method more effective as it escalates the solvency development of the hot oil and holds the melted paraffin in solution even after the oil cools down. Depending upon the amount of paraffin and/or asphaltenes present Purasolve PWD may be introduced into a hot-oiling process at 100% concentration at a varying ratio of 0.5% to 5% of the crude oil volume.

Purasolve PWD will “thin and dissolve” the paraffin and asphaltene deposits so that the discharge is greater through the tubing, lines, pumps and valves without causing damage. By melting the deposit, paraffin and asphaltenes can be efficiently extracted from storage tanks, shipping containers and tanker trucks. As a result of the nature of the biobased solvents, Purasolve PWD does not need to be removed from the melted deposits and can enhance the production process of crude oil.

Oil Production Wells & Paraffin Build-Up

There are several contributing reasons why oil wells may have reduced production. Some of the factors are naturally occurring, but others are caused by poor production or are well-specific and can often be fixed by adding Purasolve PWD. Natural causes include streaming potential due to the flow of the oil and temperature drop at the face of the formation due to the expansion of fluids as they enter the wellbore. Two wells adjacent in the same field may have two differing crude oil characteristics pumping from the same reservoir, therefore, crude oil paraffin and asphaltene content and their impact on production are “well-specific” in nature. Additional to the paraffin deposits, while containing asphaltenes, they may also contain resins, gum, salt crystals, scales, clay, silts, sand, and water emulsions.

Further contributors to the deposition may be poor production practices such as attempting to pump more than the well’s capacity, or the injection of cool fluids including surfactants, acids and solubilisers. Although hazardous solvents such as Benzene, Xylene and Toluene have traditionally been used to remove deposits, they have been known to create other problems related to worker and environmental safety.

Therefore, where paraffin and asphaltene deposits are the primary reason for a decline in production, the introduction of Purasolve PWD as part of the treatment process is designed to eliminate these deposits in flow lines, tubing, valves, pumps, tanks, etc. with minimal downtime, and will improve life-cycle maintenance costs of equipment parts.

Characteristics of Paraffins

Paraffins are straight or branched chain non-polar alkanes of relatively high molecular weight. Their chains usually consist of 20 to 60 carbon atoms with a melting range of 36° to 102° C (98° to 215° F). Asphaltenes are different; they are high molecular weight cyclic aromatic compounds that usually contain nitrogen, oxygen and/or sulfur in their molecular structure and melt at a higher range than paraffins. Asphaltenes are usually negatively charged polar compounds. In general, the lower the API gravity of the crude, the more asphaltene is present, for example, a crude of 9 API gravity contains about 82% asphaltene, whereas a crude of 41 API gravity contains only about 3% asphaltene.

It is the precipitation of these two hydrocarbons which leads to the problems in production or operation, not their mere presence in the crude oil. The precipitation and deposit of paraffin and asphaltenes are generated by a change in equilibrium conditions surrounding the production of petroleum, including pressure, temperature, flow rates and/or electrostatic effects.

Causes of Paraffin Build-Up

There is a significant pressure drop and cooling when the crude oil moves from the formation into the wellbore which is due to the expansion of oil and gas at the face of the production. There is also a buildup of streaming potential due to the flow of petroleum. Due to this cooling and the electrostatic effects of the polar nature of the asphaltenes, they can start to deposit at the formation. Often, heavy hydrocarbon buildup in the formation is further caused by the sudden cooling of the formation due to certain work-over operations such as acidizing or other operations that introduce cold fluids. When the cold acid, or other fluid, reaches the formation it may cool the formation below the cloud point of the oil (the temperature at which the paraffin precipitates out of solution). The paraffin and asphaltene may be deposited into the formation if they fall out of the solution. Once production is resumed, the formation temperature returns to its normal ambient temperature.

Methods for Removing Paraffin

A common method used to remove paraffin and asphaltene is hot fluid treatment. This treatment removes these deposits by using hot oil/diesel, hot water or steam. Although these traditional methods perform by melting the deposits, melted paraffin and asphaltenes can deposit in the formation when the hot oil introduced into the formation becomes saturated with the paraffin and asphaltenes, and the formation temperature becomes lower than the cloud point of the hot oil.

As a result under these circumstances, precipitation will occur and can cause permeability reduction and damage to the formation.

The most popular method for removing paraffin and asphaltene deposits has historically been the use of solvents such as Benzene, Xylene, Toluene and Chlorinated Solvents. This method is also the most dangerous. While effective at removing these deposits, they are extremely hazardous for workers and the environment. For example, Carbon Disulfide has been banned in some countries because it is explosive with a flashpoint of -30° C (-22° F), and is highly toxic.

Other complications associated with traditional solvents include:

  • Benzene is extremely flammable and is a carcinogenic compound.
  • Xylene is highly flammable, may cause damage to the liver and kidneys, and affects the central nervous system.
  • Toluene is highly flammable, produces toxic decomposition products, may cause damage to the liver and kidneys, and affects the central nervous system.
  • Chlorinated Solvents also have fire and health hazards, but in addition to the safety issues, they damage the catalyst used in the refinery process.

In addition to the health and safety problems associated with “traditional” solvents, if the solvents are not removed from the well when they reach their saturation level, the melted paraffin will precipitate out of the solution and lead to “clogging” problems. Therefore, these solvents should be removed quickly with extreme caution.

Although naturally occurring heavy hydrocarbons such as paraffin, wax, asphaltene and tar are often referred to as heavy deposits they are among the easiest to solve by improving your pumping solutions. By introducing Purasolve PWD into the treatment process, production efficiencies can be increased from 25% to 75% or even 100%.

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What happens to biofouling and marine growth when soaked in a solution of Triple7 Eco-Scale? Will the product be effective for biofouling removal for marine environments?

Putting Triple7 Eco-Scale to the Test

In a short lab test done by Envirofluid, an oyster shell was soaked in a solution of Triple7 Eco-Scale. Immediately, the shell started to effervesce, showing a reaction of the calcium and other dissolvable deposits to the scale remover.

Circulation always helps when removing scale but in this simple lab test, it is evident that the reaction is quite significant even in a static system.

Watch the short video of the lab test here:

Powerful Biofouling Removal for Marine

Cleaning a system with scale issues can take up to 24 hours, depending on the severity of the biofouling.

Note that Triple7 descalers will not erode or corrode metal surfaces, or damage rubbers or elas-tomers. They are safe to use on pumps and pipework in situ, saving enormous time, effort and money by not having to remove equipment from cooling towers, ship systems, heat exchangers or other water-operated machinery.

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Pumice has been around for ages and is widely used for a variety of applications.
But what exactly is pumice? What is it used for? What are the benefits of pumice soap?

What is Pumice?

Pumice is a porous (having small holes) igneous rock (which solidified from lava) that forms during volcanic eruptions when gas bubbles are trapped in the rock as magma rapidly cools and solidifies. It is very fragile and easily breaks apart into smaller particles. Whilst similar to glass (which is a hard abrasive) in properties and chemical make-up, pumice is the softest abrasive media that is widely used for a variety of purposes.

What is it Used For?

Pumice is typically ground into a very fine powder and is used as a mild abrasive in various products, such as hand soaps, topical exfoliants, and polishing compounds.

Common Uses in Consumer Products

  • As an exfoliating scrub and cleanser. Due to its mildly abrasive texture, it is most commonly used in heavy-duty soaps to remove tough grease and grime, tar, paint, and oil, among many others.
  • As scouring agents. Pumice stones and sticks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are used to remove tough stains and dirt such as paint, rust, grease, soap scum, scale, and more, from bathroom fixtures, concrete surfaces, ovens, and grills.
  • As a polishing compound. Pumice is often used for polishing surfaces, usually as the last step in finishing or refinishing pieces to gently remove scratches and wax build-up. It can be used to polish or buff various surfaces, like wood, glass, metals, leather, or plastic.

What are the Benefits of Pumice Soap?

Because pumice is a natural mineral and a soft abrasive media, it is not harsh or toxic to people and the environment. When combined with mild detergents and moisturisers, pumice hand soap is gentle on the skin and won’t dry it out. It is safer to use than harsh solvents for removing stuck-on dirt, grease, and grime. Pumice is a safe substitute for plastic microbeads found in cosmetic and personal care products.

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Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition is a global business event that gathers various experts and professionals from such industries as senior merchant marine, shore services, maritime and defence, military, and government decision-makers from around the globe.

Indo Pacific 2022 will be held from 10th to 12th May at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia, and is expected to draw delegates from over 35 countries.

Envirofluid is pleased to be part of this event where we will be highlighting our range of Worksafe and environmentally sustainable Triple7 products, as well as our high-performance, low-hazard Purasolve solvents.

Come see us at Pod 3! We would be delighted to know how we can help you!

 

Solvents are regularly used to remove grease, oil, solder flux and other contaminants from surfaces and equipment in various industries. Degreasing plays an important role, particularly in the automotive space and solvents are traditionally used for this purpose. However, growing evidence shows solvent products may be doing more harm than good, both to humans and the environment and switching to bio-based degreasers becomes the obvious and sensible choice.

Cleaning Vehicle Components

Below are some of the most commonly used solvent products for degreasing vehicle parts and the dangers they entail:

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE, dichloroethylene): is a chlorinated solvent. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and is characterized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogenic to humans, whether the exposure is through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal exposure. It poses a health hazard to the central nervous system, reproductive system, to the developing fetus, and to the kidney, liver, and immune system.
  • Dichloromethane (DCM, methylene chloride): is an organochloride compound and is highly volatile, making it an acute inhalation hazard. Short-term exposure to DCM, whether the exposed are workers, consumers, or bystanders, can result in harm to the central nervous system, or neurotoxicity. Chronic exposure can include liver toxicity, liver cancer, and lung cancer.
  • N-Propyl Bromide (nPB, 1-bromopropane, 1-propyl bromide): is an organobromide compound and is classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC). It is linked to various human health hazards, including negative effects on neurological and some reproductive systems. nPB is classified as a human carcinogen.
  • Perchloroethylene (PERC, perchloroethane, tetarchloroethylene, PCE): is a chlorinated hydrocarbon and is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means it is probably carcinogenic to humans. Acute exposure to low levels of perchloroethylene through inhalation can result in irritation to the upper respiratory tract and eyes, kidney dysfunction, and neurological effects such as dizziness, headache, and unconsciousness. Short-term exposure to high levels of PERC can affect the central nervous system and cause unconsciousness and death.

Under the Hood

To make it even more complicated, what most people don’t know is that, vehicle components–such as bearings, seals and gaskets–are usually made with perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA–also called C8 because of the eight-carbon chain that comprises its chemical make-up. PFOA is a toxic compound that is referred to as a “forever chemical” because it persists in the environment.

While it has been implied that vehicle parts made with PFOA maintain their original dimensions when harsh degreasers are used on them, much is unknown when it comes to this substance and how it actually reacts when it comes into contact with toxic solvents.

In addition, seals, silicone and rubber made from elastomeric materials tend to swell or shrink when exposed to harsh solvents.

Replacing solvents with bio-based degreasers is the perfect solution: it protects your workforce, equipment and the environment.

Switch to Bio-Based Degreasers

Bio-based degreasers are safe and effective replacements for the world’s most commonly used dangerous and toxic products. These alternatives have high flash points and low vapour pressures, making them the safest available products for such applications as parts cleaning, brake cleaning, surface preparation and more.

Switching to bio-based degreasers from traditional solvents provides the following benefits:

  • Protect and maintain the structure of components, such as seals, gaskets, bearings and elastomeric materials – alternative degreasers contain no harsh ingredients and will not degrade the quality of vehicle and equipment parts
  • Improve the performance of systems and equipment – since the parts being cleaned are not compromised in any way by bio-based degreasers, systems and equipment will continue to operate optimally
  • Improve the health and safety of workers – bio-based degreasers do not contain harmful and toxic ingredients so workers are not exposed to health and safety risks
  • Reduce the negative environmental impact of organisations – safer alternatives also mean reduced pollutants that can harm the environment

 

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