How to (almost) kill yourself with brake cleaner

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by skierd, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Dec 20, 2007
    Delaware Ohio
    I personally sent it to all the people in my email address book that remotely might do some work using a cleaner like this. I think I have a can of brake cleaner I've used in the garage recently, but no heat. I will remember this article. :deal
  2. mark1305

    mark1305 Old Enough To Know Better

    Feb 7, 2005
    Merritt Island, FL
    As you guys get more specific, I have to add more comments. Back in Post #9 I hinted at some of the stuff I exposed myself to (same young and bulletproof mentality). The worst of it was probably a chemical like TCE used as a solvent for textile waterproofing. I would sometimes have to fish around in a reclaimer tank of the solvernt looking for errant machine parts or what ever. Because the solvent was reclaimed from a waterproofing treatment machine, many times I had a water proof arm - for several days. Funny back then. Scary now.

    The more I think about it, between motorcycles and industrial jobs, how'd the Hell did I ever make to the ripe old age of 57? And yeah, I've been hurt by both before. More than once.

    I think I should just sit on the couch tomorrow. NFW :D
  3. svejkovat

    svejkovat Been here awhile

    Jun 23, 2009
    You don't always have an exhaust hood or the luxury of working outdoors on a nice day. I've got dust collection set up in my small home shop. It's just a Ridgid shop vac routed to the outdoors with a fine screen in place of the paper filter. I have a welding table with exhaust hood, but there are those times that I cannot fit the work under it for whatever reason.

    I attached a neodymium magnet to one of the vacuum hose hand nozzles. You can get these magnets online or at good industrial supplies. I got one out of an old computer harddrive. With approx the mass of a quarter coin it has enough power to fasten the hand nozzle, and the weight of the hose, to any metal object. I can place it near enough to my work so that it evacuates 99 percent of the fume with only minimal disturbance to the gas shield.

    I don't really understand why helmets are not commonly made with an option to seal against the face with a fitting to accept compressed air. Such a simple solution to so many dangers associated with heavy metal fumes. Under mild pressure, the seal would not need to be at all perfect. The helmet could flip up and down as usual.

    And incidentally, it's soooooooooo nice to finally feel a little vindicated for being a "worry wart". I've been pretty outspoken about these issues since the early seventies and back then you really were generally treated like a neurotic or a trouble maker. The dangers were already well established back then. It's just too bad that such willful ignorance had to result in so much evident hardship.

    That said, I'm VERY thankful for this thread. I did not know of the dangers of cleaning agents when welding. I got chills thinking about how narrowly I must have avoided this over the years. Who hasn't, with any years of welding experience, grabbed a can of carb or brake spray at one time or another to preclean a joint?
  4. scooteraug02

    scooteraug02 Dog Rancher

    Feb 18, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    I looked up Phosgene to learn about it, found this.

    * Phosgene was used extensively during World War I as a choking (pulmonary) agent. Among the chemicals used in the war, phosgene was responsible for the large majority of deaths.

    * Phosgene is not found naturally in the environment.

    * Phosgene is used in industry to produce many other chemicals such as pesticides.

    * Phosgene can be formed when chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds are exposed to high temperatures. Chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds are substances sometimes used or created in industry that contain the elements chlorine, hydrogen, and carbon.

    * The vapors of chlorinated solvents exposed to high temperatures have been known to produce phosgene. Chlorinated solvents are chlorine-containing chemicals that are typically used in industrial processes to dissolve or clean other materials, such as in paint stripping, metal cleaning, and dry cleaning.

    * Phosgene gas is heavier than air, so it would be more likely found in low-lying areas.
  5. CA_Strom

    CA_Strom Cunning Linguist

    Jan 13, 2005
    The Temples of Syrinx (So. CA)
    Yep.... I ran this by our lead Industrial Hygienist/Industrial Chemist and got this "
    Phosgene was used for chemical warfare in WW I (and to make isocyanates now) and is COCl<SUB>2</SUB> so anytime you burn (or otherwise oxidize) a chlorinated solvent (like the perc in the story) you can generate it."

    In other words, something rather safe in normal use can be quite nasty when you heat it up.....
  6. rapidoxidationman

    rapidoxidationman Easily trainable

    Apr 18, 2006
    The Teton Rockies
    Back in my firefighting days the fireschool instructor told us a story of how the refrigerator repair man, a heavy smoker, died one day while fixing a leak in the compressor of somebody's fridge... Phosgene gas was produced every time he took a drag from his smoke:deal .
  7. hoyks

    hoyks Tightass KLR rider

    Jan 11, 2008
    Bleach and ammonia which every house has lying around will do a good job on you, chlorine gas from memory. We had a cleaner that put herself into hospital trying to get a stain out of the toilet; the stuff is heavier than air and settled in the bowl until she stirred it up and got a lung full.

    Svejkovat, one of the best things work has bought for me is a 3M welding helmet with a battery powered belt mounted blower. Even after using the thing for a few days it is scary how much filth collects in the filter on the blower, and that is a good distance away from where your head would be breathing that stuff in. It is also quite refreshing to have a cool breeze across your face when it is hot too.

    Speedyglass brochure

    I had a mate that was building surf boards when he left school and at the place he worked the guys would clean the resin off their hands with acetone, no one thought anything of it. One day a new bloke started there, asked about gloves and they all laughed at him.

    His party trick then was to get a square of chocolate, stuck it in the palm of their hand and then poured in a few ml of acetone. Within 5 seconds you can apparently taste the chocolate in the back of your mouth as the acetone dissolves the flavours and it is absorbed through the skin and into the blood. The boss bought gloves after that.
  8. svejkovat

    svejkovat Been here awhile

    Jun 23, 2009
    I once posted on a use for silicone aerosol spray at, where ostensibly everyone is an engineer. Who knows. I'm not. Anyway, I mentioned that for many purposes, especially where sensitive electronics were concerned, I liked to use the NSF USDA food safe versions of silicone aerosol particularly since others had harsher chemicals in the recipe. I was especially concerned with acetone because of it's effect on many plastics. I was chastised by one of the engineers there on the acetone point. He said that it's among the most benign chemicals and not a worry to use around plastics. I figured that he's the expert and any problems I must have had in the past were just anomalies. After reading up on acetone finally as a result of this thread I'm convinced that he was full of shit. It is "naturally occurring", sure. But it certainly can attack many plastics. It's effects on health, however, are still uncertain to me. I'll use it occasionally to get the worst of gums off of my skin. Is it getting a bad rap? Nail salons have been soaking their customer's fingertips in it for many decades. And how many women have you known to exhibit signs of toxic psychosis leading to erratic pathological aggression?
    Anyway, I just went to the (for better and worse) wikipedia entry on acetone and reprinted the parts that applied to this thread.....

    Acetone is the organic compound with the formula OC(CH3)2. This colorless, mobile, flammable liquid is the simplest example of the ketones. Owing to the fact that acetone is miscible with water it serves as an important solvent in its own right, typically as the solvent of choice for cleaning purposes in the laboratory. More than 3 billion kilograms are produced annually, mainly as a precursor to polymers.[2] Familiar household uses of acetone are as the active ingredient in nail polish remover and as paint thinner and sanitary cleaner/nail polish remover base. It is a common building block in organic chemistry. In addition to being manufactured, acetone also occurs naturally, even being biosynthesized in small amounts in the human body. Acetone is used as a solvent by the pharmaceutical industry and as a denaturation agent in denatured alcohol.[4] Acetone is also present as an excipient in some pharmaceutical products.[5]

    Acetone is believed to exhibit only slight toxicity in normal use, and there is no strong evidence of chronic health effects if basic precautions are followed.[14]

    At very high vapor concentrations, acetone is irritating and, like many other solvents, may depress the central nervous system. It is also a severe irritant on contact with eyes, and a potential pulmonary aspiration risk. In one documented case, ingestion of a substantial amount of acetone led to systemic toxicity, although the patient eventually fully recovered.[15] Some sources estimate LD50 for human ingestion at 1.159 g/kg; LD50 inhalation by mice is given as 44 g per cubic meter, over 4 hours.[16]

    Interestingly, acetone has been shown to have anticonvulsant effects in animal models of epilepsy, in the absence of toxicity, when administered in millimolar concentrations.[17] It has been hypothesized that the high-fat low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet used clinically to control drug-resistant epilepsy in children works by elevating acetone in the brain.[17]

    Acetone is a good solvent for most plastics and synthetic fibres including those used in Nalgene bottles made of polystyrene, polycarbonate and some types of polypropylene.[3]. It is ideal for thinning fiberglass resin, cleaning fiberglass tools and dissolving two-part epoxies and superglue before hardening. It is used as a volatile component of some paints and varnishes. As a heavy-duty degreaser, it is useful in the preparation of metal prior to painting; it also thins polyester resins, vinyl and adhesives. Acetone is often the primary component in cleaning agents such as nail polish remover. Ethyl acetate, another organic solvent, is sometimes used as well. Acetone is a component of superglue remover and it easily removes residues from glass and porcelain.

    Apparently not too terribly worrisom. But I will use gloves from now on if using a decent amount of it. And hey, I just learned that it is an excellent thinner for two part epoxies. I never knew that. Might come in handy.

    This thread had brought back a few unsettling memories that I revisit every time toxic chemicals come up. The shit we did when we were young and unawares. I used to go out in the woods pot shotting and hunting squirrels with a pump action pellet gun, probably eleven or twelve yrs old. I remember I got in the habit of sticking a pellet in my mouth and chewing it slowly over the course of the afternoon, flattening and deforming it. It would actually discolor my front incisor teeth. My brother and I used to rebuilt all of our motorcycle engines, parts, in a tub of leaded gasoline (all you had in the '70s) with a "we don' need no steeeeeenking gloves or respirators" bravado. wow. My dad was a foreman at a leather processing plant here in town. One day he brought home this plastic bottle of liquid metal. Neat! Look at the way it just jiggles. It's so heavy! It was probably about four full ounces by volume. Look at the way it beads up and scatters when you pour a little on the workshop bench! Cooooool!!!! Let's pour some on the floor and blow on it real hard and watch it scatter all over the place. Wow! Twenty years later I'm reading about entire buildings being condemned and razed after the release of much less mercury than that.

    Holy fucking shit. How did we survive being that stupid?

    One more "good" story took place when I was in the Air Force and pretty much by then did know better. Stopping by a friend's house late one afternnoon I found him in the back yard putting in windows and adding a rear entry to his kitchen. Skilsaw in hand. A comic portrait of those guys who fall into a vat of flour and come up pure white except for the circle of their eyes and mouth. He'd spent the prior two full days sawing through what was clearly asbestos shingle (in fact why it was eating up blades and taking him two days) and his unprotected lungs and sinuses were no doubt chock-a-block with the stuff. "you do realize that's asbestos, right?" He just smiled, wagged his head a bit dismissively, and offered me a beer. Good old Brad. The worry wart.
  9. rdsmith3

    rdsmith3 Long timer

    Apr 3, 2006
    NW NJ
    same here. I remember playing with mercury as a kid.

    Also, I grew up in Ambler, PA. When my mother went shopping at the A&P grocery store, I played on the large white hills nearby. Scroll down to "legacy of asbestos" in the wikipedia entry. Those hills were mounds of waste that contained asbestos. Who knew?,_Pennsylvania
  10. shovelhead

    shovelhead Adventurer

    Dec 6, 2006
    This is a great post. I never knew that brake cleaner was that dangerous. As a chassis builder I use the stuff to clean everything. I don't use it on the chromoly tubes i weld, but sometimes I have used it to clean dirty parts that need to be welded and never even thought about it because it dries so fast. I will pass this info along to everyone I know that welds.
  11. Mugwest

    Mugwest .

    Oct 18, 2005
    3rd Ring of Buzztopia
    man-- talk about a contact Buzz... as i was reading this thread just now with a sinking feeling in my guts at all the stupid hazmat abuse i've done (both for pay and voluntarily), i took a swig of beer and instantly felt clammy, cold-sweaty and sick.

    All the same 'old days' acetone and brake cleaner abuse applies. I only started using blue nitrile gloves a few years ago, and sporadically at that.

    The damage has been done :nod

    prolly a moot point but i'll be minimizing those exposures from now on

    excellent reminders here folks

    don't forget that most of these agents will end up in the water table eventually. Hopefully they are not long-lived in solution, but that's just shit-in-one-hand wishing. Ask the Indicator Frog :lol3
  12. KTM640Dakar

    KTM640Dakar Motorsick

    Nov 23, 2004
    Oxbow Lake
    [​IMG] <!-- BEGIN MAIN CONTENT -->Arc Welding Safety
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#990000>[​IMG]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    Arc welding is a safe process when sufficient measures are taken to protect the welder from potential hazards and when proper operating practices are followed. Major hazards welders can encounter if these dangers are overlooked include fumes and gases, arc rays and sparks, and electric shock. Listed below are some informative websites and data resources.
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Publications from Lincoln Electric</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    • Arc Welding Safety Brochure - E205 View pdf (English) View pdf (Español)
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    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Lincoln Electric Material Safety Data Sheets</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Publications from the American Welding Society</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>[​IMG]
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Fume Extraction Equipment</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    • Environmental Equipment Selection Guide - MC05-138 View pdf
    • Miniflex® - E13.11 View pdf
    • Mobiflex® 100-NF - E13.42 View pdf
    • Mobiflex® 200-M - E13.12 View pdf
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    • X-Tractor® 3A, 5A and 8A - E13.19 View pdf
    • DownFlex™ Downdraft Tables - E13.50.1 View pdf
    Request Fume Extraction Equipment Literature
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Safety & Health Topic: Hexavalent Chromium</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width="100%" bgColor=#990000 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Additional Welding & Safety Resources on the Web</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!--<table border="1" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" width="100%"> <tr> <td align="center">Hazard</td> <td align="center">Factors
    to Consider
    </td> <td align="center">Precaution Summary</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center">Electric shock can kill

    [​IMG]</td> <td>
    • Wetness
    • Welder in or on workpiece
    • Confined spaceElectrode holder and cable insulation
    </td> <td>
    • Insulate welder from workpiece and ground using dry insulation. Rubber mat or dry wood.
    • Wear dry, hole-free gloves. (Change as necessary to keep dry.)
    • Do not touch electrically &quot;hot&quot; parts or electrode with bare skin or wet clothing.
    • If wet area and welder cannot be insulated from workpiece with dry insulation, use a semiautomatic, constant-voltage welder or stick welder with voltage reducing device.
      Keep electrode holder and cable insulation in good condition. Do not use if insulation is damaged or missing.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center">Fumes and gases can be dangerous

    [​IMG]</td> <td>
    • Confined area
    • Positioning of welder's head
    • Lack of general ventilation
    • Electrode types, i.e., manganese, chromium, etc. See MSDS Base metal coatings, galvanize, paint
    </td> <td>
    • Use ventilation or exhaust to keep air breathing zone clear, comfortable.
    • Use helmet and positioning of head to minimize fume in breathing zone.
    • Read warnings on electrode container and material safety data sheet (MSDS) for electrode.
    • Provide additional ventilation/exhaust where special ventilation requirements exist.
    • Use special care when welding in a confined area.
      Do not weld unless ventilation is adequate.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center">Welding sparks can cause fire or explosion

    [​IMG]</td> <td>
    • Containers which have held combustiblesFlammable materials
    </td> <td>
    • Do not weld on containers which have held combustible materials (unless strict AWS F4.1 procedures are followed). Check before welding.
    • Remove flammable materials from welding area or shield from sparks, heat.
    • Keep a fire watch in area during and after welding.
    • Keep a fire extinguisher in the welding area.
      Wear fire retardant clothing and hat. Use earplugs when welding overhead.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center">Arc rays can burn eyes and skin
    [​IMG]</td> <td>

    • Process: gas-shielded arc most severe
    </td> <td>
    • Select a filter lens which is comfortable for you while welding.
    • Always use helmet when welding.
    • Provide non-flammable shielding to protect others.
      Wear clothing which protects skin while welding.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center">Confined space
    </td> <td>
    • Metal enclosure Wetness
    • Restricted entry
    • Heavier than air gasWelder inside or on workpiece
    </td> <td>
    • Carefully evaluate adequacy of ventilation especially where electrode requires special ventilation or where gas may displace breathing air.
    • If basic electric shock precautions cannot be followed to insulate welder from work and electrode, use semiautomatic, constant-voltage equipment with cold electrode or stick welder with voltage reducing device.
      Provide welder helper and method of welder retrieval from outside enclosure.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="center" valign="top" rowspan="3">General work area hazards

    [​IMG]</td> <td valign="center">

    • Cluttered area
    </td> <td valign="top">

    • Keep cables, materials, tools neatly organized.<
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="center">

    • Indirect work (welding ground) connection
    </td> <td valign="top">

    • Connect work cable as close as possible to area where welding is being performed. Do not allow alternate circuits through scaffold cables, hoist chains, or ground leads.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="center">

    • Electrical equipment
    </td> <td valign="top">
    • Use only double insulated or properly grounded equipment.
      Always disconnect power to equipment before servicing.
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="center" align="center">[​IMG]</td> <td valign="center">

    • Engine-driven equipment
    </td> <td valign="top">
    • Only use in open, well ventilated areas.
    • Keep enclosure complete and guards in place.
    • See Lincoln service shop if guards are missing.
    • Turn off engine before refueling.
      If using auxiliary power, OSHA may require GFI protection or assured grounding program (or isolated windings if less than 5KW).
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="center" align="center">[​IMG]</td> <td valign="center">

    • Gas cylinders
    </td> <td valign="center">
    • Never touch cylinder with the electrode.
    • Never lift a machine with cylinder attached.
      Keep cylinder upright and chained to support.
    </td> </tr> </table> -->
    <!-- END MAIN CONTENT -->
  13. Hatch

    Hatch PAR OG

    Sep 23, 2007
    on the road again!
    Like this?

    Good post, I didn't know the exacts of this. But I woulda figured heating up these solvents probably wouldnt be a good air freshener.:lol3
  14. thebigkr

    thebigkr Stupid Freak

    Aug 14, 2009
    B'ham, WA
    I run a household hazardous waste program and I'm here to say, if you think just because you can buy it at Kragen or Lowe's or Wally World it's safe, you are crazy. Some of the most toxic chemicals made are common in the home.
  15. Purcell69

    Purcell69 Mors ex Tenebris

    May 23, 2009
    Moving the speed of rust in mid-OK
    It is absolutely frightening to think about the things we have exposed ourselves to over the years. I can remember using MEK (methylethylketone) as a parts cleaner many years ago. From what I recall, this stuff is no longer available. I also ingested smoke from burning polyurethane paint (both parts, not mixed) about 20 years ago, and playing in the "rock dust" dad was using to landscape the yard when I was a kid. Rock dust, as it was called was asbestos. Glad I quit smoking!

  16. Pike Bishop

    Pike Bishop Pull Down the Ponzi.

    Nov 8, 2008
    Your Back Yard
    I remember my Dad bringing home big bottles of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) from the plant. Back in the old days, people would use that stuff to clean grease off their hands! Not recommended that you use it while smoking, though ... in the presence of combustion, it produces phosgene!
  17. Benesesso

    Benesesso Long timer

    Jul 29, 2008
    West of Phoenix, Arizona
  18. Wesley J

    Wesley J Hoser

    Jul 15, 2008
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Great post. I've forwarded it on to everyone I know who may weld or work in their shop.

    Makes me wonder about the years of using canned ether as a cleaner....

    Wesley J
  19. ryanwilliamcantrell

    ryanwilliamcantrell Get Out and Ride!!

    Dec 9, 2006
    Nampa, Idaho
    Wow. Scary.

    Thanks for the heads-up.
  20. tenderfoot

    tenderfoot PRJ

    Feb 7, 2006
    Gauteng, RSA
    Nuff said.:rofl