What Are Corrosive Substances?

  • Posted by: Nick
what are corrosive substances

Knowing more about corrosive substances will help you to protect your assets and understand the science of chemical decay, which may be important to your company operations. Specifically, corrosive substances should be handled in particular ways because of their ability to damage various types of items, and in many cases, their inherent toxicity to the skin and human body. Keep reading to learn about the most common corrosive materials.

Definition

Corrosive substances are items that will corrode other materials when they come into contact with them. The Safe Work Australia guide makes note of corrosive chemicals that “…may cause severe skin and eye damage and may be corrosive to metals”. However, substances with corrosive properties can damage many materials. People may refer to some of these as “caustic chemicals” because of the effects that they have on other materials.

It’s important to understand that corrosive substances can be found in liquid or solid forms, or in the form of a gas or vapour. Gas-form corrosive substances, for example, may be analysed in the course of determining workplace safety in factories and facilities where these types of corrosive acids are used in a spray form or infiltrate the air in some way. Corrosive vapours can damage your windpipe, lungs, throat, and the lining of the nose when breathed in, just like liquid corrosive can injure the skin.

Types of Corrosive Substances

The most common types of corrosive materials are various types of acids, which fall between 1 and 7 on the pH scale. although Some alkali metals, which have pH ratings over 7 also qualify as corrosive. Whether acidic or basic, substances become stronger the further from the centre of the pH scale they fall. A strong acid might have a pH of 1, while a strong base has a pH of 14.

On the other hand, weak acids and bases closer to the centre of the scale lack corrosive properties. For example, concentrated hydrogen peroxide can also have corrosive properties despite having a pH of 6,2, which makes it a weak acid. This substance is a type of strong oxidizer that can “decompose violently” when exposed to heat, friction, or shock. This shows that some substances are only corrosive in the right environments.

Another common household chemical, bleach, is corrosive. Bleach is often the common name of sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and can safely be used to clean because it is so often diluted with water. The same goes for many other corrosive substances, which is how we employ them to produce goods or clean. Bleach, in particular, is the substance that strips dye from fabrics to create the “acid wash” look, even though it’s not an acid. With a pH of 12, bleach is a strong base, and its corrosive effects can be neutralized with sodium thiosulfate.

Not every corrosive substance is a mixture, however. Some routine periodic elements also have corrosive properties, which is important to consider when you’re trying to figure out which formulations may have corrosive toxicity.

What Are Some Best Examples of Corrosive Acids?

Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid are among the most common corrosive acids. Acetic acid, chromic acid, hydrofluoric acid, and phosphoric acid are also some specific examples of corrosive chemicals with a pH lower than 7.

Elements such as fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine can all have corrosive properties. Zinc chloride is another molecular substance that has corrosive capabilities.

Some corrosive substances exist naturally. Stomach acid, for example, is a strong hydrochloric acid with a pH between 1.5 of 3.5. This is necessary to break down food. The stomach is lined with a protective mucus that prevents this acid from wreaking havoc on the body. We also commonly ingest corrosive acid. Lemon juice has a pH of around 3, which is similar to the pH of pineapple. These acidic foods can cause a tingling or burning sensation if you consume too much of them.

On the other side of the pH scale, ammonium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide are all corrosive bases. The latter is also known as caustic soda or lye and is a common ingredient in cleaning products.

Additional Information About Corrosive Substances

Because corrosive substances can break down certain materials, you must take care when storing or transporting them. The Queensland Government has specific regulations regarding the storage of hazardous materials, including corrosive substances.

Corrosive materials can have some proper uses. For example, various corrosive materials are often used in common cleaning products. However, makers may suggest the use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, face shields and other items when handling corrosive substances. You may also have to follow local laws that dictate material handling procedures.

Although corrosive substances are irritants that can cause inflammation or other discomforts to your body if you don’t protect your skin, eyes, or lungs, they can also protect us from other potentially harmful substances. Those familiar with medicine and dentistry may recognize glutaraldehyde, a corrosive substance that is employed as a disinfecting agent.

Some artists also use corrosive substances to create unique works of art. The process involves the material, typically metal, that has been prepared by protecting part of its surface and an acid (also known as a mordant) that corrodes the unprotected surface. Ferric chloride is commonly used to etch designs in metal. Afterwards, the corrosive acid is rinsed, and protective materials can be removed.

Summary

Corrosive substances are powerful. When mishandled, they can cause personal injury or damage other materials. However, this capability makes corrosive substances useful for applications ranging from production to cleaning. It’s necessary to know how to handle these materials and what to do in case of a spill. Check out Ecospill to learn how to protect your business from hazardous spills.

Is There An Expiration Date for Spill Kits?

  • Posted by: Nick
spill kits expiration

Would you leave your safety in the hands of chance? Spill kits are a safety tool. Safety in the workplace is important not only to employees and a legal requirement but will save you from costly and dangerous accidents.

You need to check your safety and cleaning equipment to ensure it is in perfect working order. Your spill kit should be at the top of that list. It’s good to add an inspection of it to your regular maintenance program.

Overview of Spill Kit

A spill kit is a fully complete solution of personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure employee and workplace safety when cleaning up an industrial spill. While the equipment in the spill kit can vary from application-to-application, all kits contain PPE, some type of absorbent material, and clean up chemicals and materials.

Essential Personal Protection Equipments (PPE) in a Spill Kits

Spill kits are customized to the purpose for which they are intended, but most kits contain the following PPE and equipment:

  • Face and eye guards
  • Rubber gloves and booties
  • Single-use lab coat or overalls
  • Respiratory protection

After your PPE, your spill kit will contain spill containment equipment:

  • Absorbent socks
  • Containment booms
  • Drain covers

When your spill is contained, next comes the absorbents to pick up the spill

  • Absorbent mats
  • Granular absorbents

Last, is your disposal equipment. You must have a means to safely dispose of any toxic substances.

  • Disposal bags
  • Any other equipment

Be sure to put your spill kit in a location that is readily and easily accessible for quick grabs. Accidents happen quickly, so be sure to have yours in a likely place where accidents occur.

Tips to Check Your Spill Kits Expiration

The lifespan of a spill kit can vary according to the conditions it is kept. That being said, the average shelf life of a spill kit is five years. But, UV rays and exposure to the elements will degrade a kit quickly, sometimes within a few months.

1. Make checking your spill kit a regular part of your company’s maintenance plan. This will include a visual and physical inspection of the materials contained within the kit.
2. Inspect the absorbent materials for any white flakes or powder. When absorbent materials containing polypropylene degrade, this substance will evidence it and it will be time to replace it.
3. Physically inspect the absorbent socks, mats or pillows by giving a small shake to see if they tear. If tearing is evident, the product is beyond your spill kit’s expiration and must be replaced.
4. Check any spill kits that are kept in less-than-optimal conditions (outside, exposure to UV light or temperature extremes) at least once a month. Stored improperly, the kit may not be suitable long before its expiration date.
5. Swap out any absorbent materials used in kits that are used frequently with the materials in kits in less than stellar conditions. This will help ensure all spill kits are in peak condition and materials are fresh.
6. If your kit is being used only outdoors, consider purchasing a UV-resistant spill kit. The specialized container will protect it from the elements for up to 8000 hours.

7. Rapid response in a spill is critical. Post the locations of skill kits for more effective response times for your team.

Summary

In knowing what your spill kit contains, you can automatically know if any critical components are missing or have been used. Along with that, we now know that a spill kits expiration doesn’t have a hard and fast date, but the absorbents in them have a shelf life depending on the conditions they are kept in. The absorbents should last around five years. But adverse conditions can affect this life span, so continual visual and physical inspections are required to make sure that your spill kit is in peak condition. Have you checked yours lately? Call us to get a spill kit perfect for your application!

Know Which Absorbent Products You Actually Need

  • Posted by: Nick
Types of Absorbent Products

Quick Introduction of Absorbent Products

So, your factory floor is being eaten away by a hazardous liquid. Do you know the type of absorbent products actually needed to clean up this mess? How about a nasty part of a consistently oily floor that loves to eat your money in workman’s compensation claims?

Maybe your company needs to contain a chemical spill in a body of water, it’s important to know the correct material to use in your application to prevent property damage, the environment or injury to a precious employee. Let’s discuss ways you can control these unsafe conditions with the use of absorbent products at your disposal.

Types of Absorbent Products

There are four basic types of absorbency products. The end application will determine the type of product you need.

Absorbent Mat Roll: These are sold in sheets or rolls to handle low-grade spills or to protect surfaces from moisture or hazardous materials.

  • Mats are pre-cut and designed to be quickly grabbed and used. Often found in spill kits or in areas where spills are most likely to happen, such as production areas, kitchens and food service areas and loading areas.
  • Rolls come in many widths. They are really handy in production areas where leaks, drips and spills are a common occurrence. They also come in different densities to stand up to pedestrian traffic, even heavy machinery, for months at a time. Rolls are for larger volumes of moisture for maximum absorbency.

Socks and Booms: When you have a drafty door, you use a large sausage-shaped “sock” to stop the draft. This is essentially the same concept for industrial applications. These absorbent socks are primarily used to absorb larger quantities of liquids. Socks are great for snuggling up against messy oil cleanup against machinery on production floors. But they, or better yet their big brother, the Boom, are used outdoors for oil or chemical spills in bodies of water.

Pillows: Spill pillows absorb oil and chemical spills. An excellent choice for solid surfaces, they will absorb 98 per cent of their mass in three seconds. Used with the containing powers of socks or booms, any industrial accident is quickly contained and cleaned up by the ultra-fast absorbing power of the spill response pillow.

Loose granular absorbents: Also known as powder absorbent, floor sweep, spill absorbent and kitty litter, loose granular absorbents have been around forever so most people are comfortable using these products. They’re great for absorbing oil spills in awkward areas where other products may not reach. They’re also a great option just to have on hand for a quick cleanup when spills inevitably happen in the workshop, involving emergency services or construction and industrial sites.

Choosing the Perfect Absorbent Products for You

An absorbent product comes in many shapes, sizes and absorbency levels. How do you find one that’s perfect for your home or industrial application?

  • Identify the intended use. On land or in the water? Food service, medical, environmental safety?
  • What type of liquid are you absorbing? Chemicals, oil, water, bodily fluids?
  • What is the volume of liquid being absorbed?

The type of liquid will determine which type of product you should use. For instance, if you’re absorbing fuel and oil, you may want a synthetic absorbent that attracts oil and chemicals for best absorption. This is a little more expensive than a natural absorbent that is perfectly fine for water-based applications. Above, we talked about the absorption materials available. Now let’s address some practical uses.

1. Absorbent Mats and Rolls: Every time you buy meat at the grocery store, you see a type of absorbent mat on the bottom of the meat tray. A variety of absorbent mats and pads are used in the medical industry as bandages and pads to clean up a variety of biohazard spills or in industrial production in excessively slippery areas.
2. Skimmers and Booms: These products are used on bodies of water for environmental cleanup. Chains of oil-absorbent booms skimmed the ocean’s surface to help the cleanup effort. The boom is placed around the spill to contain it, while the skimmer (absorbent sock) is skimmed along the water’s surface to remove the oil.
3. Oil Absorbents: Are made with layers of special synthetic sorbent that attracts oils, making a difficult clean-up job a bit easier. Truck and auto shops need these types of mats, rolls and socks to absorb the hazardous liquids that are part and parcel of an auto shop business.
4. Vermiculite: An inert, natural mineral that absorbs moisture, making it ideal for shipping applications where the added security of a moisture barrier is required. It makes shipping liquids safer in case of packaging damage. Since it’s inert and has a soft, pliable texture, it’s unreactive to any substance and makes a perfect cushion for safety precautions when shipping.
5. Clay-Based Absorbents: Famously called “kitty litter,” clay-based absorbents are an all-around useful product for spill cleanup. They’re cheap and versatile, but what you may not know is that clay absorbents are among the least effective at spill retention. So, while “kitty litter” can be used for many applications, it may not be as cost-effective as you might think.
6. Spill Kits: Are a practical choice for many businesses and industries. They are designed to have an all-inclusive answer to any type of oil or chemical spill. Different solutions are included in the kit including different adsorbents and sizes to handle anything from water to strong solvents. Custom-designed kits are also available for different needs like medical, automotive or mercury.
7. Traffic Rugs: A type of absorbent mat can be found at the entrances to office buildings, absorbing rainwater and dirt for safety. They are very common in the entryway of businesses, especially if you live in very wet or snowy areas for safety against slippery areas.

Summary

Leaky machines, slippery floors, toxic spills on land or water shouldn’t be a problem for your business. A variety of different absorption solutions are available to make your business a safer, more stress-free place. Will you be the one to take action and get the absorbent products actually needed to make your business a safer one? Contact us now to arrange for a full consultation.

Where Do Coirs Come from And What Are They Used For?

  • Posted by: Nick

Coir is a natural, fibrous material made from coconut husks and has been in use for potentially thousands of years. However, it was only recently that coir took off as a multipurpose, all-natural fibre with uses across many industries from horticulture, upholstery, construction, and even as an effective oil and fluid absorbent. 

For many people, the outer husk of the coconut is thrown out in the trash or put into compost piles to be broken down for use in their garden later. However, it has a wide array of uses that make it an invaluable material. 

The coconut palm tree along with coir has been grown by people for at least 4000 years, with evidence pointing at early Austronesian explorers using coir materials for boat building and construction. The first written records for the use of coir in rope making appeared in the first century AD when Greek explorers noted the lashings used by East Africans in their boats.  

The primary use for coir remained as a material for rope for many centuries, spreading around the world before becoming a key industry in India and Europe in the 19th century. This is where coir carpets and fabrics started to be manufactured.  

What Are the Main Uses for Coir? 

Since being used as the main material in rope making, shipbuilding, and construction around the world, today coir has expanded into a wide range of industries. 

Textiles 

Just as in the 19th century, coir is still used to make a wide range of textiles and fabrics including doormats, rugs, and floor coverings. And because of the porous nature of coir textiles, coir floor coverings are great for use in oily or wet environments as they do not become sodden and provide great grip to prevent falls and injuries.

Upholstery 

Manufacturers use coir in different ways for upholstery, such as raw and natural coir as a string and as stuffing for mattresses or combined with rubber to make car seats, sofas, and many other pieces of furniture. 

Horticulture and gardening 

While coir is generally inert (after being cleaned of any accumulated sodium or potassium) and doesn’t add nutrients to gardens, it is great at soil conditioner as it prevents soil compaction and allows air, nutrients, and moisture to move through the soil. It can also be woven to create eco-friendly and sustainable pots for planting in, and large woven mats are effective at controlling soil erosion without adding inorganic material to the environment. 

Construction 

While traditional coir cords are still used as a construction material around the world, coir is also frequently used for insulation. It is also an extremely effective addition to plywood when glued together with wooden veneers or rubber in countries where coir is a much cheaper solution than traditional plywood. 

As an oil and fluid spill absorbent

Coir is gaining popularity as a key component in oil, fuel, and fluid spill products. Because dried coir has great absorbency rates, is sustainable, easily sourced, and is non-reactive, it has many applications for cleaning up oil, fuel, and other liquid spills both at home and in industrial complexes. It is also a cheaper option than products that utilise mined clay as the main ingredient as coir is readily accessible as a by-product of coconuts. 

Tests have indicated that coir, in powder form and when altered to be hydrophobic (so that it floats on water rather than mixing with it instantly), can effectively clean up oil spills in bodies of water.  

This is already having far-reaching implications for natural disasters that ruin aquatic ecosystems. Once deployed to clean up oil spills in bodies of water, the coir powder can simply be collected and squeezed to remove a large quantity of oil, allowing it to be reused multiple times. 

The Different Types of Coir 

Coir fibre essentially comes in two different forms: brown fibre, and white fibre. The difference between the two lies in the age of the coconut when harvested.  

White coir fibre 

White coir fibre comes from green coconuts that have typically been on the tree for as little as 6 to 12 months. The unripe coconuts are soaked in water for as long as 10 months where they undergo a process known as retting. Retting involves microorganisms eating the organic matter around the fibres, after which they are ready to be dried, cleaned, and spun into yarn. 

In order to prevent water pollution from retting, scientists have now developed a process where enzymes are introduced to the coconut husks in a controlled environment to carry out the retting process without destroying natural habitats that communities rely on.

Brown coir fibre 

Brown coir fibres come from the fibrous husk of ripened coconuts. Brown coir is soaked in water to soften the fibres before the long fibres are separated from the shorter, softer ones that lie under the skin of the coconut.  

The drying process can be controlled to give the brown coir fibres greater elasticity depending on their end-use. They are then packed into bundles before being sent to their end production destinations to be made into rope, insulation, textiles, and more. 

Coir, the fibrous material on the outside of the coconut, has a wide range of uses and applications for many different industries. From rope making to oil and fluid spill absorbents, we can expect that many more uses will be found for this sustainable and environmentally friendly material in the future.

If you want to know more about using coir or any other material as part of your fluid spill plan, or if you have any additional questions that only the experts can answer, then reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or our website for the best and latest information.

What Are Toxic Substances?

  • Posted by: Nick

You may already have some awareness of common toxic substances. These might include lead in your water, asbestos in your insulation, mercury in shellfish, and glyphosates in pesticides, all of which can have a direct impact on your health as well as the health of animals, plants, and entire ecosystems. 

But knowing some of their names is different from understanding what they can do to your health and what you can look out for. So, let’s start by asking, “What are toxic substances?” 
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