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Understanding the dangers of solvents

Understanding the dangers of solvents

Solvents in the workplace: the health hazards

Common workplace chemicals linked to liver and kidney damage, infertility and cancer.

Solvents haven’t historically attracted the same headlines as notorious substances like asbestos or heavy-metal fumes, but their dangers are rapidly becoming known. Recent studies have shown a clear correlation between benzene exposure and leukaemia, scleroderma with mixed solvents, and renal cancer with chlorinated hydrocarbons, for example.*

With over 13,000 deaths each year linked to the inhalation of chemicals and dust at work, it’s now clear that protective measures need to be taken to control risks around solvents (also known as VOCs – volatile organic compounds). The HSE estimates that 8% of the working population regularly use solvents in processes such as degreasing, metal cleaning and adhesion, and they are also commonly utilised as paint thinners and lubricants.

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