Safety Warning

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Safety Warning

Postby spiffyguido » Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:20 pm

I've put this in the "Just For Fun" section because it's slightly off topic, but actually, there's nothing fun about this article:

Some of you will have heard of Phosgene because of its use in WWI. As vehicle hobbyists, we use dangerous chemicals on a frequent basis, but I think we often forget just how dangerous they can be.

After reading the article, I hope the message you get is to always READ THE LABEL and take all the precautions possible. The guy writing the article almost died, and has been left disabled for life due to his run-in with a product (brake cleaner) many of us will have used. Many chemicals used during automotive work are tremendously dangerous. Always take precautions: wear gloves, safety goggles, a respirator and vent the area. If you don't have one, go out and buy a NIOSH respirator. It's a must have for any automotive hobbyist.

I'll draw particular attention to several products:

-Carb Cleaner - We've probably all got a rattle-can full of this stuff in our garage. It's an excellent solvent, but you don't want to breath the vapors, nor do you want it on your skin or in your eyes. Given that it's so powerful, a lot of the time I think people misuse carb cleaner. Use a weaker, safer solvent. I've found that a relatively safe solvent like Mineral Spirits is all that's needed for most things.

-Brake Cleaner - Pretty self evident by now, thanks to the article above.

-Rim Cleaner - I used to use rim cleaner to get the brake dust off my wheels, that is until I got some on the pants I was wearing and it burned a fist-sized hole in my pant-leg. Pants aside, I couldn't believe that the can directed me to "rinse away with water", as if to say that it was okay to introduce such a corrosive chemical into the storm-drain. We all want shiny rims, but since then, I've found a bucket of soap water, rag and an old toothbrush to be just as effective.

-Brake Fluid - Anyone who has spilled this stuff on themselves know that it will numb your sense of touch in the area for days. Wear gloves.

-Gasoline - I should have listed this one first, because we probably all fill up our cars on a weekly basis. Gasoline is dangerous. The vapors are harmful, and you don't want it on your skin. When you fuel, be careful not to spill, and stand to the side while you pump so that the vapor plume doesn't go right up your nostrils.

Lastly, I'll say again something that I've said before. When dealing with hazardous chemicals, our responsibility extends beyond use. We should always be mindful of disposal as well. As a rule, every fluid that you put in your car or use to maintain your car should be properly disposed of. Even something like antifreeze is not safe to dump on the road. When you have excesses that you are done with or used fluids that you have drained out of your car, bottle them up and take them to your local chemical depot (often a firestation). Do the earth a favor so that it's still a planet worth driving on when our grandkids get their first car.

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Re: Safety Warning

Postby RedRacer » Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:05 am

Well I missed this one somehow.

Very good post man. That's incredibly scary what happened to that guy. Makes me wonder if my asthma and constant bronchial problems could be related to some of the stuff I've used in my garage. Brake cleaner being one of them.

Everyone should read his story and this post.

And just to add, about antifreeze --> Not only is it bad to pour it out on the ground because of the environmental impact but it is also certain death for animals of all kinds, including humans, if swallowed. It can kill the family pet in a matter of hours. And it's extremely attractive to them because it has a sweet taste to it. Not to mention all the squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks, etc. that might get into it.

Common sense when dealing with chemicals of any kind is always the best thing. Being responsible as an adult human is YOUR job. Don't think that just because something is out of your sight and dealings that it's no longer a problem. If it's here, it's pretty much here forever and you need to do the right thing and make sure you dispose of chemical waste, garbage, etc. responsibly. And that includes your used engine oil. Take it to a recycler, don't pour it on the ground or down a storm sewer. It's not just our future, it's the future of those who come after us too.

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