In many workplaces, keeping a clean environment is not considered a major deal. Keeping a green working environment isn’t so difficult either. But there are other places of work, like garages and manufacturing complexes, where keeping a clean and green environment is a little more challenging.
Challenging, but by no means impossible. Whether running a portable parts washer or increasing washroom hygiene levels, there are clear and highly effective environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional methods of cleaning.
The key phrase to keep in mind is Green Cleaning, which has exploded worldwide in recent years. The concept focuses on promoting cleaning methods and cleaning products that use environmentally friendly ingredients, and are free from hazardous chemicals and toxins.
There is already a vast array of high hygiene and low environmental impact products for the washroom (like a cloth towel dispenser), but what is less well-known is there are also machinery parts cleaner and engine cleaning products available that don’t contain those chemicals we think are necessary.
Of course, truly ‘Green’ cleaning products go beyond using less hazardous ingredients: they will also boast environmentally friendly packaging and disposal too.
The Key Environmental Problems
So, what are the issues with the old ways? Well, there are two:
- The impact that old cleaning products have on the environment.
- The impact they have on worker health.
Environmentally speaking, there can be no surprise that the old chemical cleaners and solvents used in parts and engine cleaning by mechanics are highly detrimental. The waste liquid produced by the solvent can pollute the work area if it is left on the work floor, while dumping it into the sewage system untreated means that hazardous elements are simply added to the water system.
Chlorinated solvents, like trichloroethylene, are resistant to environmental degradation, while petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals (fluid), heavy oil distillates and detergents all contribute to highly pollutant concoction.
The Key Health Problems
In terms of worker health, the use of chemicals in cleaning parts has long been linked with a variety of illnesses and injuries.
For example, commonly used chemicals used in a traditional parts washer include:
- Acetone (vapours linked to liver damage and eye damage)
- Ammonia (respiratory problems)
- Benzene (headaches, blackouts, cancer, death)
- Ethyl acetate (carcinogenicity, neurotoxity)
And Dermititis is a hugely common health complaint amongst those who use these chemicals.
Even the cleaners used in washrooms and kitchens (even in the home) can have an effect on health.
The Healthland Section
According to a recent report in Healthland section of Time.com, the Environmental Working Group (US) has highlighted that some all-purpose cleaners contain 2-butoxyethanol, which can damage red blood cells. Some floor cleaners, meanwhile, have been found to contain 15 times the amount of methoxydiglycol (DEGME) permitted by the European Union.
Even without chemicals to consider, there are washroom and eating-area practices that can promote illness. For example, studies from the University of Westminster, London have shown that hot air dryers actually blow bacteria into the air, causing cross contamination, and that the simple cloth towel dispenser is far more hygienic.
So, what are the alternatives open to you? Well, for an auto shop or manufacturing floor where machinery a parts washer is used, using alkaline detergents mixed with water is an effective option.
According to the EPA, water-based cleaners are “better than solvents from an overall human health and environmental standpoint. They reduce worker exposure and exposure to the surrounding community”. Studies have also shown that such cleaning fluids retain a higher level of dirt, oil and grease.
The Alsco Ecosafe Parts Washer, for example, is designed to use OzzyJuice, a non-flammable, pH neutral, non-toxic and non-corrosive solution instead of traditional engine cleaning solvents. It’s safer because hydrocarbons are converted into water and carbon-dioxide, while oil and grease is converted into oxygen and carbon-dioxide. The amount of pollutants left in waste water is calculated to be about 7% that of the pollutants in traditional waste water.
With more everyday cleaning products, look for the Design for Environment (DfE) logo, or if a cleaning company is hired to clean your washroom and kitchen facilities, then check that their products are eco-friendly.
Reduce cross contamination by using toilet seat and urinal sanitisers, ensuring disposal bins are properly covered, and installing a cloth towel dispenser instead of electric hand dryers.
Achieving the twin benefits of a clean and green workplace is not so difficult. So, take time to examine your current cleaning practices. There are better options to using hazardous chemicals, without compromising standards.
Alsco Ecosafe Washer
As businesses become more mindful of the environment and the need for safer workplaces, best practices are changing towards new products like the water based parts washers. Our Alsco Ecosafe Washers are water based and exists in its own environment where oil and grease are transformed into water and carbon dioxide.
It’s important that you respond promptly. Talk to an Expert! Our representatives are waiting for your call.
- ‘Is Spring Cleaning a Health Risk?’, A Shifferlin, Healthland, Time.com – http://healthland.time.com/2012/04/26/is-spring-cleaning-a-health-risk/
- ‘A comparative study of different hand-drying methods: continuous roller towel, paper towel, warm air dryer’, K Redway and S Fawdar, School of Biosciences, University of Westminster, London – www.europeantissue.com/pdfs/090402-2008%20WUS%20Westminster%20University%20hygiene%20study,%20nov2008.pdf
- ‘Water-Based Parts Washer Systems’, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://www.epa.gov/region9/waste/p2/autofleet/systems.html
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