WorkSafe NZ issued a Safety Alert recently after 2 workers died in two separate incidents due to acute exposure to organic solvents.
One case involved a worker who was applying a UV treatment to windows, the second case a worker was applying adhesive while laying carpet. Both workers fell unconscious and later died. The UV treatment and the carpet adhesive contained Organic Solvents.
In these circumstances, short-term exposure to very high levels of organic solvent vapors can cause headache, dizziness and light headedness, progressing to unconsciousness, and death.
Organic solvents can be found in:
- adhesives (cyclohexane, acetone, toluene)
- paints and lacquers (toluene, xylene, methyl ethyl ketone)
- de-greaser (tricholorethylene, perchloroethylene)
- printing (turpentine, white spirits, xylene).
They enter the body, mainly through inhalation of vapor and through direct skin contact, and into the bloodstream where they can cause adverse health effects.