Solvents also known as VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are used in many construction products acting as carriers for surface coatings such as paints, thinners & glues, varnishes, adhesives & pesticides.
Potential Harmful Solvents:
- Present in paints, adhesives & Pesticides
- White Spirit
- Present in paints, varnishes & cleaning products
- Ethyl Acetate
- Synthetic resins, paint & lacquers
Work involving the spraying of solvent based construction products can produce very high exposure levels to potentially harmful solvents & is subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) & require the health risk to be assessed and managed with the correct selection of respiratory protective equipment (RPE) & personnel protective equipment (PPE).
The manufacturers & suppliers should supply hazard data sheets including RPE recommendations on the products supplied.
Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) Required
- Protective coveralls applicable for solvent protection
- Appropriate gloves that protect against solvents
- Face shields
- Half masks with appropriate filters in well ventilated areas
In certain instances such as spraying in confined spaces or when recommended by hazard datasheet compressed airline breathing apparatus maybe necessary.
- Airfed Mask such as the SR 200 Airline
Health Effects & First Aid:
Exposure to solvents from breathing in vapours from paints or paint strippers as well as vapours released when glues dry or cure can cause nausea, dizziness & light headedness. Coordination can be impaired, a danger if using ladders as well as loss of concentration or delayed reactions.
Very high exposures to adhesives such as large spillages or in confined spaces can cause unconsciousness and even death.
Repeated or prolonged exposure can cause dermatitis as well as some solvents could be absorbed through the skin.
Contact will cause irritation & inflammation
Anyone affected by solvents should be taken into fresh air immediately & given the appropriate first aid. Solvent splashes should be washed with plenty of water & any wounds dressed. Any solvent splashes to the eye should be treated by washing the eye with water for at least 10 minutes prior to transfer to Hospital.