Solvent exposure can pose many risks to the body. Preventing overexposure to solvent fumes can be an effective measure that can save the body of many complications and health issues. The following piece of information will give you effective tips to prevent exposure. Read on…
What are solvents? The answer is simple, it is a substance that is used to make any substance thinner or dissolve. Solvents are basically a group of chemicals that can be used for the purpose of diluting or dissolving. A very simple example of solvent is water! Water is a very good solvent for most substances, and it’s the most natural solvent too. But in certain cases, water cannot be the solution. The progress in technology and science has made chemicals the new and universal solution for solvents.
Most of the solvents today are made up of chemicals, that can help dissolve or dilute certain elements, even those which are insoluble by water. Solvents are used widely in commercial products and substances. Many industries for textiles, paint, rubber, dry cleaning, etc., use solvents on a large-scale. Solvents therefore are important because their many uses in varied products and processes. But there also stands a negative side of solvents. Exposure to solvents in any form can harm the body.
The easiest form of exposure is through solvent fumes. These fumes are produced with their dissolving in the air. Solvent exposure through these fumes is maximum as these are directly inhaled in the body. The exposure to solvents is harmful and it primarily affects acutely, or there are times when the symptoms or effects may develop in the chronic stage.
Solvent Exposure Symptoms
It is the central nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys that are affected when exposed to solvent fumes. This leads to many issues like feeling nauseous and dizzy, convulsions, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, and unconsciousness. Sore and watery eyes, anxiety, mood swings, poor concentration, loss of memory and depression are also some of the symptoms of solvent exposure.
There are certain chemicals that can affect the peripheral nervous system too. That can lead to numbness and tingling, and in extreme cases lead to paralysis. Liver damage will particularly signify a rough and unpleasant taste in the mouth and abdomen pain, along with nausea. The fumes are also known to travel maternally. Paint fumes and pregnancy have been in the limelight for various health issues they pose as a combination.
Solvent exposure treatment includes taking the person to a well ventilated space, and allowing him/her to breathe well. In case of very slow or no breath and unconsciousness, artificial respiration is advised. However, in such cases it is strictly recommended to call emergency medical services.
Overexposure to Solvent Fumes – Prevention
Overexposure to solvent fumes occurs through inhaling of the fumes in the air for a long time. People working in certain areas of production where these solvents are used on regular basis are more prone to overexposure to solvents. Greater exposure is possible at home too, when painting the home. As wall paints too have a considerate amount of solvents, taking precaution and effective preventive measures is important.
- Avoiding any exposure is the best way, but it is not possible always. So the best way is to keep the area of work well ventilated, or by using a LEV, that is local exhaust ventilation. Also regularly check the ventilation systems for defects.
- A fume hood or respirator can also be used. There are certain respirators specially designed for solvents that also have been approved and tested against their fumes. Use only these masks, and do not compromise on a regular or dust mask, as it will be completely ineffective.
- When using solvents always read and follow the safety precautions and other information given on the containers. Keep the container lids closed whenever possible.
- Whenever you start to feel dizzy and nauseated, make sure you head back to a well ventilated window or door. If possible, leave the workplace for a while and get some fresh air.
- Keep the solvents labeled with the contents and composition clearly written on the container. For all the commercial uses, it is strictly advised to inform the employees about solvents and on how to handle them.
- A good move is to educate all the employees, on what to do in an emergency, first aid and other measures.
- Rags and other material that is soaked with solvents must be disposed off carefully in air tight bags and containers as soon as possible.
- Some of the solvents can form explosive fumes and vapors when mixed with air. Special care must be taken to handle such solvents. They should be kept away from any heat or flame.
All these were some of the measures you can follow to prevent solvent exposure. Maintaining these tips when dealing with solvents can help a long way. So get some wise thought on preventing overexposure of solvents, you can add more to your preventions list. So keep your distance from solvents as much possible and breathe right!