The use of toxic chemicals like n-propyl bromide (nPB or 1-BP) and trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing has become increasingly scrutinized by regulatory authorities throughout the world. Due to worker safety concerns, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed banning TCE in vapor degreasing and has targeted nPB as one of its top 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluation to determine if it presents an unreasonable risk to humans. The European Union has already sunset TCE in vapor degreasing and nPB is scheduled for 2020. 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids are a safe, sustainable cleaning alternative to n-propyl bromide (nPB), trichloroethylene (TCE), and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and unlike with nPB and TCE usage, the EPA does not require users of Novec fluids to report consumption.
Because of worker safety concerns, regulatory pressure is intensifying around nPB, or 1-bromopropane. The list of current/upcoming regulation changes for nPB includes:
Looking for a sustainable cleaning solvent that isn’t targeted for phasedown? Learn why Mustang Vacuum Systems, a vacuum deposition equipment manufacturer and service provider, switched from nPB to Novec fluids in their vapor degreasers.
Put the safety of your workers first. In order to use nPB safely in vapor degreasing applications, companies need to reduce worker exposure levels to at least 0.1 ppm, which is 100x lower than typical vapor degreasing exposure levels. This can be costly and may include new ventilation systems, respiratory protection, equipment enclosures and modifications to vapor degreasers. The added cost of equipment and process modifications, training and exposure monitoring makes nPB impractical for use in vapor degreasing.
Non-cancer and cancer health risks were identified for workers with repeated and chronic exposure to nPB, including:
TCE is a Class A2 suspected human carcinogen. TCE poses an unreasonable risk to human health including significant non-cancer risks from exposure. Chronic exposure of TCE in vapor degreasing can result in serious adverse health effects. Because of these worker safety concerns, the U.S. EPA has proposed a ban on TCE in vapor degreasing. And in the E.U., it is already banned for use without special permits under Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH).
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are Class II ozone depleting substances that are on a global phase-out schedule under the Montreal Protocol. The U.S. and E.U. have essentially completed their transition away from the use of HCFCs, while less developed countries are in earlier stages of the phase-out. Because HCFCs are no longer viable cleaning solvents, it’s time to choose a smarter, safer and more sustainable solvent for your vapor degreasing operations.
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Typical vapor degreasing exposure exceeds the nPB exposure guideline 100 times over, making it an unsafe solution for this application. Like nPB, TCE has a low exposure guideline. Our newest heavy-duty cleaning solvent, 3M™ Novec™ 73DE Engineered Fluid, has an exposure guideline of 195 ppm (molar weighted average of the component 8-hour threshold limit values) , meaning it has an almost 2000x higher exposure guideline than nPB. Using nPB or TCE can require the need for costly facility upgrades and personal safety equipment.
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Whether you are looking for an nPB alternative or a TCE replacement, we want to make your transition to a new cleaning solvent as simple as possible. With a range of Novec fluids to choose from, we recommend a product sample or cleaning trial to help find the best Novec solution for your needs.
Our team of engineers and experts are ready to answer your questions and offer you global support, including access to samples, data and help with cleaning trials. Contact us today.