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Water and oils used in metalworking are dangerous to breathe. OSHA and NIOSH have published guidance on worker exposure to fluids and mists, including OSHA's Metalworking Fluids: Safety and Health Best Practices Manual.
The 4 classes of metalworking fluids are:
When aerosolized into a mist, metalworking fluids are inhalable, posing a risk of severe respiratory diseases, including asthma, bronchitis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which can become permanent.
The dangers of exposure is not limited to inhalation. Skin exposure can cause irritation or dermatitis as well as allergic reactions, and even worse side effects. "A number of studies have found an association between working with [metalworking fluids] and a variety of cancers, including cancer of the rectum, pancreas, larynx, skin, scrotum, and bladder (NIOSH 1998a).1"
Wherever workers run the risk of inhaling metalworking fluids or coming in contact with them, it's important to have strong exposure data. Knowing the potential exposure level empowers safety managers to make the best decisions about tools, training, and PPE. This 3-page article from TSI experts explains how one automaker uses DustTrak Aerosol Monitor to monitor metalworking oil mist exposure in real-time.
1“Metalworking Fluids: Safety and Health Best Practices Manual.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov/SLTC/metalworkingfluids/metalworkingfluids_manual.html.