ChemFree - Environmental Technology Product News Release
November/December 1998 -- Solutions for
By Beatriz J. Fontanive
Assistant Editor (Used with permission)
Recent medical studies show that workers may be
afflicted with a variety of problems, including
depression, memory loss, and post-traumatic stress
disorder, resulting from the solution they use to clean
their machine parts. Following recommended safety
measures may simply not be enough to protect workers,
this new medical evidence suggests.
Knowledge is the best defense for the millions of
Americans who use solvents on a regular basis, as well
as their employers. Information on the solvent's
effects must be considered when implementing health and
safety measures. If solvent use can be replaced with
another cleaning procedure, it may significantly reduce
adverse effects on workers. Forty-nine million metric
tons of solvents are produced yearly in the U.S. These
solvents are used by almost 10 million Americans on a
daily basis-a significant number through the use of
solvent-based parts washers. Medical studies, such as
Solvents and Neurotoxicity by R.F. White and S.P.
Proctor, have shown that users of solvents may be
affected by fatigue, depression, confusion, attention
deficit, memory loss, tingling, numbness, loss of smell,
muscle weakness, and irritability through skin contact
and breathing.. Exposure symptoms generally affect the
central nervous system or the peripheral nervous
system. Although symptoms may subside if the patient is
removed from the toxic environment, long-term exposure
cases may produce long lasting and permanent effects,
including cognitive and behavioral changes. These
symptoms are irreversible. Compounding the problem,
treatment options are limited and early diagnosis is
difficult. Therefore, primary prevention is imperative
to ensure worker safety.
Solvents of concern, including mineral spirits, are
liquids volatile at room temperature. Absorbed through
skin contact and/or inhalation, they build up in fatty
tissue. Many workers in paint and varnish manufacturing
and application, automotive manufacturing and repair,
the electronics, industry, metal degreasing are
affected, as are those workers involved in common
industrial machinery parts cleaning.
White & Proctor note that the past 25 years have
produced numerous studies documenting the neurotoxicity
of solvents. Investigations have included
neurophysiological methods such as Computed Tomography,
SPECT, evoked potentials, sensory examination of the
central and peripheral nervous systems with MRI, nerve
condition and reflex testing.
A Number of recent studies have used
neurophysiological assessment techniques of cognitive
function, mood and personality aberrations and motor
function through interviews, questionnaires, and written
tests. These investigative techniques have uncovered
new evidence that many workers suffer "serious symptoms
without being obviously or clinically ill. Scientists
and clinicians are now discovering the magnitude of a
problem that was previously below their radar. Many
people experiencing nervous system effects of solvent
exposure are aware their symptoms are related to the use
of organic solvents, but most are not."
Low dose, acute exposure tests show improvement once
the patient is removed from the situation. Chronic
exposure has shown to create permanent changes in
attention span, problem solving abilities, mood and
memory, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and
motivational disorders also occur.
Patients with solvent exposure disorders have limited
options for treatment. The possible options include: 1.
Removal of worker from solvent contact; 2. Treatment of
headaches or dizziness; 3. Improvement of arousal and
motivation through the use of stimulant treatments; 4.
Psychotherapy, and/or anxiolytic treatment (for patients
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder).
According to White & Proctor, "because early
diagnosis is difficult in most clinical settings and
because treatment options are limited in number and
effectiveness, it is essential that industry and public
health authorities focus on primary prevention of
long-term exposure to volatile solvents." In addition,
the new studies show that "chronic, long-term exposure
at levels below the recommended standards has produced
evidence of nervous system dysfunction." Based on this
information, the alternative for employers may be
installation of a new cleaning system.
Parts washing without toxic solvents is possible, in
the form of a new technology from ChemFree Corp. This
solvent alternative, called OzzyJuice®, combines with a
sink and filter to create the SmartWasher system. The
system uses no hazardous solvents. Using
bioremediation and naturally-occurring microbes, the
OzzyJuice® solution, an industrial strength degreaser,
eats oil, grease, and contaminants. The fluid never
needs to be changed. With typical use, 80% of
hydrocarbons will be remediated within seven days. The
OzzyJuice® product features an aqueous-based cleaning
solution, no known carcinogens, no OSHA or DOT regulated
chemicals, no flash point, no VOCs, and it is certified
by AQMD, USDA, and ETL. In addition, it eliminates the
generation of liquid hazardous waste, chemical waste
storage, handling, and transport problems.
Unlike mineral spirits which dissolve grease, this
product breaks the surface tension of the grease and
lifts it off the part. As a part is washed, the
solution lifts the grime from the part. The parts
brush, or adjustable faucet, rinses the grease and oil
from the part. Contaminants, oil, and grease are rinsed
through the sink. The filter pad, located under the
sink, traps the larger particles as the remainder flows
into the sink. The OzzyJuice® in the sink then breaks
down the hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide.
The carbon dioxide is released into the air, and the
water is eliminated through evaporation. Therefore,
there is no sludge build-up or need for solids removal.
This new technology provides a simple solution to the
problems solvents can create for workers.
References: Medical information from Solvents and
Neurotoxicity by R.F. White and S.P. Proctor. Product
information courtesy of ChemFree, www.chemfree.com,