AEC Understands the Consequences of Solvent Exposure in Parts Cleaning

solvent exposureAEC Systems understands that we live in a world filled with dirt and grime and that our clients, whether they are in manufacturing, small engine repair, construction, automotive, or the oil and mining industries, battle this every day in order to maintain services or production to specification. EPA regulation continuously challenges business to do better with less damage, to leave a lighter environmental tread mark, and AEC remains committed to both thorough parts cleaning and stringent environmental standards.

Previously solvent exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, reproductive damage, respiratory problems, and cancer. One study revealed that exposure to solvents has consequences for memory and cognition not just in the present, but indefinitely into the future. Researchers now believe that even decades later people exposed to paints, degreasers, glues, and adhesives may continue to experience problems with thinking and memory.

Up until now it was commonly thought that exposure to solvents does affect short term brain functioning and cognition, but after studying some 2,143 male retirees (all of whom worked for a French national utility company) with long-term, even long ago exposure, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health now believe the damage is more pervasive and permanent. “When we looked at those where the exposure happened a long time ago, 30 to 50 years before, we found that the effects of solvents on cognitive function didn’t necessarily fade away,” said Erika Sabbath.

Twenty-six percent of the men studied were exposed to benzene, thirty-three percent to chlorinated solvents, and twenty-five percent to petroleum solvents. The amount of exposure was noted carefully. The men were all tested for cognitive function at about ten years into retirement, and fifty-nine percent of them showed some sort of cognitive impairment on between one and three of the eight tests, with twenty-three percent of them showing cognitive impairment on four or more of the eight. Only eighteen percent showed no impairment at all.

The highest rates of impairment in all areas of memory and thinking were measured in men who had the most and most recent exposure to solvents. For instance, the men with high recent exposure to chlorinated solvents, such as those found in engine cleaners and degreasers, were sixty-five percent more likely to to have poorer scores for visual attention, task switching, and memory than those with no solvent exposure.

AEC Systems designs parts washers for our customers deliberately and with consideration of their environmental impact, efficiency, and cost. Aqueous cleaning, which uses heat, water, and corrosion-free detergents, is a much more environmentally friendly alternative to solvents which are frequently harmful, or even poisonous, to the people and environments exposed to them.

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