Toxic Chemicals: Risk Prevention Through Use Reduction

A business prescription for reducing toxic chemical use
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We aim to eliminate toxic chemicals through measurable, transformational actions using innovative tools and guiding principles where we will: Develop Meaningful Programs Leverage Imaginative Partnerships and Make Measurable Progress. Agency Home Page Feature Box 2.

How Do I Work Safely with - Toxic Materials

Source Reduction We achieve these goals by adhering to the principles of pollution prevention, or eliminating pollution at its source. Ultimately, the smartest, cheapest and healthiest approaches to reducing toxic threats is to prevent the use of toxic chemicals in our products from the beginning. Environmental Protection Hierarchy. These savings have continued to accrue since then. They helped ChemGenes to grow, and the business hired four new staff. The success of this project created momentum for a second toxics use reduction endeavor, the installation of a solvent recovery system.

This system reduced ChemGenes' use of additional chemicals and allowed for substantial savings in chemical purchase costs.

It also reduced the company's costs for transportation, insurance and disposal of hazardous waste. Stainless Steel Coatings, which hails from Lancaster, manufactures an industrial coating used in corrosive and high-impact applications.

The company undertook several chemical substitutions, including eliminating the use of hexavalent chromium in one of its key products, a primer used with a polyurethane coating. The alternative was more expensive than the hexavalent chromium-containing product. However, overall costs were reduced because a smaller amount of the replacement chemical was required in the formulation.


Net input costs were equivalent after the substitution. Between and , the businesses worked collaboratively to test a range of lead-free materials for use in electronics applications. The consortium was able to show that lead-free electronics assembly produced results that were equal to or better than what had been achieved with lead, and that lead-free options were also effective for rework repair applications. Auto repair and auto body shops use a variety of solvents and other toxic chemicals for parts cleaning and other tasks. This can lead to worker exposures on a routine basis, often affecting workers who lack access to training and appropriate personal protective equipment.

Not every toxics use reduction project leads to financial savings, but many do. And of course, financial impacts are not the only consideration. OSH Answers Fact Sheets Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. Search all fact sheets: Search. Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question. When considering exposure control measures such as ventilation, there are many considerations, including: Physical state of the toxic material e.

Chemical properties e.

Substitution of hazardous chemicals - OSHWiki

Toxicity e. Other potential health effects e. Potential routes of exposure inhalation? Quantity used. Frequency of use Once a day? Every day? The job requirements e.

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Size and layout of the work area. Some other important points for storage of toxic materials include: Keep the amount of toxic material in storage as small as possible. Inspect storage areas and containers regularly for any deficiencies, including leaking or damaged containers, expired shelf-life or poor housekeeping.

Correct all deficiencies as soon as possible. Ensure that containers are tightly closed when not in use and when empty. Keep empty containers in a separate storage area. Empty containers may contain hazardous toxic residue -- keep closed. Store containers at a convenient height for handling, below eye level if possible. To contain spills or leaks, the toxic material containers should be stored in trays made of compatible materials.

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For larger containers such as drums or barrels, provide dikes around the storage area and sills or ramps at door openings. Storage tanks are above ground and surrounded with a dike capable of holding entire contents.

Ensure that the storage area is well-ventilated and out of direct sunlight. Store toxics separately, away from processing and handling areas, eating areas and protective equipment storage. If totally separate storage is not possible, use physical separation to keep toxics away from incompatible materials.

The storage area should be fire-resistant and constructed from non-combustible materials. Ensure that suitable fire extinguishers and spill clean-up equipment are available. In general, when handling toxic materials: Use only the smallest amount necessary to do the job. Prevent the release of toxic vapours, dusts, mists or gases into the workplace air.

Be aware of the typical symptoms of poisoning and first aid procedures. Report any signs of illness or overexposure immediately to the supervisor. Depending on the material, medical attention for an exposure may be required even if the exposure did not seem excessive. With some materials, symptoms of a severe exposure can be delayed. Do not return contaminated or unused material to the original container.

Ensure containers are clearly labeled and inspect containers for leaks or damage before handling.

In water and food

Keep containers tightly closed when not in use. Ensure suitable emergency equipment for fires, spills and leaks are readily available. To prevent spillage, use proper tools to open containers and to transfer material. Pour toxic liquids carefully from the container to avoid splashing and spurting.

How to Avoid Environmental Toxins

Avoid any welding, cutting, soldering or other hot work on an empty container or piping until all toxic liquid and vapours have been cleared. Maintain good housekeeping e. The following are some general recommendations for disposal of waste toxic materials: Always review federal, provincial and local municipal government requirements prior to disposal of toxic materials. In some cases, disposal by controlled incineration or secure landfill may be acceptable. Specific requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction. Toxic chemical waste must NOT be flushed down sewer or sanitary drains as a method of disposal.

This practice is illegal and unsafe. Do not mix hazardous waste materials with regular garbage destined for a landfill. Ensure that the waste container used is compatible with the waste material. Always ensure that the waste container is properly and accurately labelled.

To avoid potential explosions, fires or spills, do not mix incompatible mixtures in a single waste container. Do not overfill liquid waste containers. Liquid waste containers should only be filled to about three-quarters capacity to allow for vapour expansion and to reduce the potential for spills occurring from moving overfilled containers. In general, store waste material in the same manner as the non-waste material.