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Degreasers are products used to clean surfaces and remove grease or oil from various materials. Degreasers can be found in both industrial settings and homes. They are commonly used on metal, glass, and plastic surfaces. However, there have been concerns over toxicity from these types of products. So, is degreaser toxic?

Is Degreaser Toxic?

Yes, degreasers can be toxic if inhaled, swallowed, or if they come into contact with your skin. The most common health hazards associated with degreasers are skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, vomiting, and diarrhea issues. These effects are minor and will go away once you stop using the product or follow the first-aid instructions. Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area when using degreasers.

Person wearing PPE to avoid the toxic fumes of a degreaser

Some ingredients found in the degreasers are more toxic than others. For example, petroleum-based solvents like kerosene and mineral spirits can cause skin irritation and organ damage. Other chemicals like glycol ethers, toluene, and chlorinated solvents are also linked to toxicity and can be harmful if inhaled or ingested.

However, there are safer alternatives to traditional degreasers. For example, biodegradable or natural degreasers are a much safer option that can be used in both industrial and home settings. These degreasers are made from plant-based or other natural ingredients, so there is much less toxicity risk than traditional degreasers.

What Is the Health Risk of Degreaser?

The health risk of a degreaser depends on the ingredients found in the product. Some are harsh, while others are much safer. However, all degreasers should be used with caution to avoid health risks. The following are some of the health risks associated with degreasers:

Eye and Skin Irritation

The chemicals found in some degreasers can cause skin and eye irritation. Most of the time, this is just a temporary effect that resolves once the exposure stops. However, continued exposure can lead to more severe effects like burns, cancer, and organ damage.

When using any kind of degreaser, like cycling wipes, you should wear personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves, goggles, and a face mask. It is also important to ensure that the area being degreased is well-ventilated.

Respiratory Problems

When degreaser chemicals are inhaled, they can cause respiratory problems. Some of the more common effects include difficulty breathing, coughing, and sore throat. Inhaling large amounts of degreaser chemicals can also lead to more serious effects like liver damage, cancer, and death.

Work on an open area or ventilated area so that you don’t inhale any degreaser chemicals. If you are using a spray degreaser, avoid spraying directly into your face. It is also important to wear a face mask when using these degreasers, especially if you are working in a poorly ventilated area.

Person spraying degreaser on a car part

Ingesting Degreaser Chemicals

Some degreaser chemicals can be ingested, especially if the chemicals are poured into a drain or onto food or drink. This can lead to various health effects, including nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. More serious effects like organ damage, cancer, and even death can occur if large amounts are ingested.

When using any kind of degreaser in your home or at work, make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets. Store degreasers in a safe place, away from food and drink. If you are pouring degreaser down the drain, make sure you do so only when no other chemicals or food waste is disposed of in the same area.

Pregnant Women and Degreasers

Pregnant women should avoid using degreasers as much as possible. The chemicals found in degreasers can cross the placenta and enter the fetus. This can lead to various health problems for the fetus, including birth defects, developmental delays, and cancer.

If you are pregnant and must use a degreaser, wear PPE and work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid using degreasers that contain harsh chemicals, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Degreasers and Cancer

Some of the chemicals found in degreasers have been linked to cancer. These chemicals can damage DNA and lead to the development of cancerous cells. In addition, these chemicals can also cause cancer cells to grow and spread more quickly than normal.

Environmentally Hazardous

Degreasers that contain harsh chemicals can also be environmentally hazardous. These chemicals can pollute the air, water, and soil and can also contaminate crops. This can lead to long-term environmental effects like soil erosion, contamination of water supplies, and damage to ecosystems.

Ensure you dispose of degreasers properly—don’t pour them down the drain or into the environment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and always contact your local waste management authority for guidance.

Person wearing full PPE while using a degreaser

Benefits of Eco-Friendly Degreaser Products

Eco-friendly degreasers come from water-based or citrus-based products. Most are manufactured with less harmful chemicals than traditional degreasers. These products are phosphate-free, petroleum-free, and VOC-free. The following are some of the benefits of safe eco-friendly degreasers:

  • They are less harmful to the environment. They will not contaminate soil, water supplies, or crops.
  • They are safer for humans to use and are less likely to cause skin irritation or respiratory problems.
  • They are biodegradable, which means they can break down naturally in the environment without causing any long-term damage. This ensures that you are doing your part to preserve the planet.
  • Most of these products are non-flammable. Unlike traditional degreasers, eco-friendly degreasers will not explode or catch fire when coming into contact with an open flame since they are water-based.
  • Lastly, eco-friendly degreasers are usually cheaper than traditional degreasers. This is because they are made with less expensive ingredients and do not contain any harsh chemicals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Degreasers Make You Sick?

Yes, degreasers can make you sick. They contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. These chemicals can cause nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. More serious effects like organ damage and death are possible; however, these outcomes are rare.

Is It Safe to Mix Degreaser and Bleach?

No, it is not safe to mix degreaser and bleach. The two chemicals will react to produce chlorine gas. This gas is very harmful to your lungs and can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and burning eyes.

Conclusion

Degreasers are extremely useful cleaning products; however, they can be harmful if misused. Be sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions. If you have any concerns about the safety of using degreasers in your home, consult a doctor or poison control center for advice.

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