In industrial machining and grinding operations, metalworking fluids are used to reduce heat and friction and remove metal particles. Fluids can be water-based, including soluble oils and semisynthetic fluids, oil-based, such as petroleum oils, or a mixture containing anything from oils, emulsifiers and anti-weld agents to corrosion inhibitors and biocides, among others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are 1.2 million workers in the U.S. in metalworking and metal-forming operations who may be exposed to metalworking fluids. Exposure can happen by skin contact during parts and equipment handling or by breathing aerosols generated during grinding and machining operations.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states occupational exposures to metalworking fluids may cause several health conditions, including:
- Allergic and contact dermatitis
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, asthma, and other respiratory issues
What can employers do?