Safety Hazard in Disguise – Acetone

Most of us have heard of the chemical acetone. Acetone is used widely throughout the world for its ability to remove paints, adhesives, and other types of resins. In fact, you may even have acetone in your house right now at this very moment. Where? You ask… Well if anyone utilizes fingernail polish in your household, you most likely have fingernail polish remover. Acetone is the main ingredient in virtually all fingernail polish removers due to its ability to thin and dissolve nail polish so it can be removed effectively. However, just because acetone is in a seemingly benign product such as nail polish remover does not mean it is hazard-free.

According to MSDS Online,

Acetone is a clear, colorless liquid that is highly flammable. The potential negative health effects are skin, eye and lung irritation. Long-term exposure can result in dry, cracked skin and possible damage to the nervous system.

It is important to remember to exercise caution when working with or around acetone. In many situations it is a good idea to utilize the assistance of PPE when handling this chemical in an industrial environment. Acetone has the ability to not only cause irritation to the mucus membranes due to its intense fumes; however, it can also begin to impair judgment when large amounts are inhaled in small or confined areas. Furthermore, acetone also presents severe fire risks. By nature, acetone is extremely flammable and can ignite easily under certain conditions.

MSDS Online features some great safety tips regarding the use of PPE for acetone exposure

  • Make sure the area in which the acetone is used is well-ventilated
  • Wear nitrate safety gloves every time you use acetone
  • Wear a safety goggles and ventilation masks (not dust masks) when using acetone
  • If you work with acetone on a surface, make sure the surface is a surface that doesn’t soak up the liquid
  • If you use acetone in your business, make sure you have got the proper licensing in place to do so

Acetone is a common item, but it can pose some serious risks, particularly in regard to its high flammability. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure a safe environment any time you use acetone.

Even though acetone is a highly recognized ingredient in most fingernail polish removers, there are many other industrial uses for acetone which make it an incredibly helpful chemical when utilized properly and with the right protection. Some common uses outlined by MSDS online include the following:

  • Printing – as a cleaning solvent Adhesives
  • Manufacturing – most commonly in carpet adhesives
  • Wood Stains and Varnishes – for varnish solvents – very common in households
  • Paint Stripping – as a solvent, also common in households
  • Polystyrene Manufacture – for polystyrene production
  • Machinery Manufacture and Repair – as a cleaning solvent
  • SBR Latex Production – as a solvent Electroplating – as a vapor degreaser and cold-cleaning solvent

Caution should be used when working with acetone or any other chemical for that matter. Many times it’s the chemicals that “seem” harmless that end up doing the most damage due to handling or disposal negligence. Take the time to become informed on chemical hazards to avoid unwanted injuries and/or damage.

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