Replacing Solvents with Bio-Based Degreasers
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