The actual production of plastics tends to occur closer to the sources of its raw material – oil, natural gas and or biological material. In Ireland, we tend to import finished product in various forms and merely process them into another form through blow or injection moulding.
These processes inevitably involve heating up plastics, and it is usually here that the potential for hazardous fumes exists. These obviously depend on the particular plastic resins involved, and there far too many to list here, though some of the major ones are: PVC – Hydrogen Chloride, and the carcinogenic and hepatoxic vinyl chloride monomer (though this is usually only present in the production stages) ABS – Styrene, butadiene, phenol, Acetals – Formaldehyde, Polystyrene – styrene aldehydes.
It is important to control the potential for overheating plastics as much as possible, and being very careful with processes such as burning off excess plastic from blocked dyes etc., as hazardous fumes tend to be generated working above the normal process temperatures.
When actually burning plastics, the list of potential hazardous agents generated becomes very long and includes such pleasant items as hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, benzene and especially carbon monoxide.
A related industry, fibre glass, involves the use of plenty of resins that can act as skin sensitisers, and of course styrene, a potent irritant and possible carcinogen.
Injection and especially blow moulding machines can also be noisy, with pneumatic air releases generally being the primary cause.
- Airborne concentrations of associated contaminants
- Assessment of suitable control during purging or similar high-heat operations
- Dust exposure from feedstock pellets or regrinding
- Workplace Noise Surveys
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