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How can the encouragement of the use of nPB promote greater workplace safety?

During the 1960s chlorinated solvent suppliers demonstrated to the regulatory agencies world-wide, that 1,1,1 trichloroethane (TCA) sold as Genklene®, Chlorothene®, Baltane® etc. was safer than trichloroethylene, as it was not shown to be carcinogenic. Users were encouraged to change to this safer solvent and manufacturers took the opportunity to sell branded products, with high levels of support and service rather than a commodity, as trichloroethylene had become.

Classification at that time was -
Trichloroethylene - Category 1 carcinogen R40 - limited evidence of carcinogenic effect
1,1,1 trichloroethane - R20 - Harmful by inhalation

When TCA was banned, worldwide, as an ODS (ozone depleting solvent) contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer because of the large quantities used. work was begun to develop an alternative however, n-Propyl Bromide (nPB) was not proposed until after the ban became effective.

The opportunity was taken, by regulators worldwide, for a huge campaign, to convert manufacturers from the use of solvents for cleaning to water based alternatives with some success. There are, however, many applications where water cleaning is technically inferior to solvents or is unacceptable for other reasons such as corrosion. The authorities then accepted the substitution of trichloroethylene for 1,1,1 trichloroethane even though, in Europe, under the terms of the Solvents Emission Directive 1993/13/ EC click for more. This is not allowed as any substitution of chemicals must be to a SAFER material. Clearly in this case this could not be correct by definition. Pragmatism or pressure?

The European market at that time was worth hundreds of millions of pounds Sterling and today about 30,000 tonnes per annum is still sold worth hundreds of millions of Euros.

The situation is similar to that in the 1960s. Trichloroethylene is a commodity usually sold on price with no service or support.

Users are becoming increasingly concerned at the complexities of the legislation surrounding the use of solvents and the personal liabilities of management and are prepared to pay a higher price to buy a safer product, to protect their workforce. The technical support which the distributors of EnSolv® stabilised n- Propyl Bromide cleaning solvent offer in minimising usage, air monitoring, risk assessments, operator training and support are important. For management the continuously updated advice on the effects of current and pending legislation are an essential part of the effective, economical and safe use of solvents.

page last modified on 29/07/14

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