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New ASTM Draft Standards Promote Safe Use of Metal Removal Fluids

Metal removal fluids, also known as metalworking fluids, are chemical products widely used as processing aids for machining or grinding metals such as engine, transmission and aircraft components.

Two ASTM standards that concern safer use, selection, and management of metal removal fluids have been updated to reflect the needs of manufacturers, including shop managers and machinists, industrial hygienists, toxicologists and other health and safety professionals, and formulators of metal removal fluids.

The revised standards have been presented for ballot within ASTM by Subcommittee E34.50 on Health and Safety Standards for Metalworking Fluids, part of Committee E-34 on Occupational Health and Safety.

According to Subcommittee Chairman John Howell, director, Safety, Health and Environmental Affairs, Castrol Industrial North America, Ill., both the users and the formulators of metalworking fluids can benefit by the revised standards. “The revised standards reflect the latest thinking regarding ‘systems management’ of metalworking fluids and the manufacturing environment in which they’re used,” he said.

Standard E 1302, Guide for Acute Animal Toxicity Testing of Water-Miscible Metalworking Fluids, defines acute animal toxicity tests and presents references for procedures that will assess the acute toxicity of water-miscible metalworking fluids concentrates as manufactured. Water-miscible metalworking fluids are manufactured as concentrates designed to be diluted in water for use. When applied, ASTM E 1302 will help the formulator assess the potential health hazards of the fluid and the user to evaluate those hazards and develop appropriate work practices.

Acute toxicology testing of water-miscible metalworking fluids consists of several individual tests including acute oral, dermal, or inhalation toxicity, eye and skin irritation or corrosion or both, skin sensitization, and sensory irritation. Certain protocols for acute, oral, dermal and inhalation toxicity tests are limit tests; further multi-dose testing should take place if mortality is noted on any of these tests. The referenced protocols specify the species and numbers of animals required. Selection of tests conducted should be designed to minimize the number of animals used.

Standard E 1497, Practice for Safe Use of Metal Removal Fluids, establishes guidance for the safe use of metal removal fluids, additives and antimicrobials (often called “biocides”). including fluid selection, storage, dispensing, and maintenance. Use of E 1497 will improve management and control of metal removal fluids. Proper management and use will reduce dermal and other occupational hazards associated with metal removal fluids.

Routes of metal removal fluid exposure and overexposure include eye contact, inhalation, and dermal contact. Exposure may be through contact with the fluid, airborne fluid mists, or fluid residue on machinery and parts. New guidance on metal removal water quality and treatment, fluid sump and system design, management, prevention, and emergencies will assist both users and suppliers of these fluids.

“These revised standards complement the other existing standards within the jurisdiction of E34.50,” said Howell. “For example, E 1687 [Standard Test Method for Determining Carcinogenic Potential of Virgin Base Oils in Metalworking Fluids] assists formulators in properly selecting base oils for use in metal removal fluids, PS 42 [Provisional Method for Metal Removal Aerosol in Workplace Atmospheres] gives guidance on how to measure metal removal fluid mist in the shop, and PS 94 [Provisional Practice for Personal Sampling and Analysis of Endotoxin in Metal Removal Fluid Aerosols in Workplace Atmospheres] assists users in measuring endotoxin, a potential health hazard of microbiological origin. Importantly, the newest guide, E 1972, [Practice for Minimizing Effects of Aerosols in Wet Metal Removal Environment] benefits users by describing ways to minimize exposure to these fluids,” said Howell. Committee E-34 develops occupational health and safety standards for materials, and chemical, physical, and biological agents, with consideration to:

  • Exposure, including safe levels, methods of measurement, monitoring of personnel and environment, and medical examinations;
  • Symptomatology and the need for treatment and first aid;
  • Control, including engineering, personal protective equipment, precautionary methods, training, warnings and labeling, storage and transportation, handling, and disposal; and
  • Administration, including record-keeping and registry.

For further technical information, please contact John Howell, Castrol Industrial North America, 1100 W. 31st St., Downers Grove, IL 60515-1280 (630/743-7340). For meeting or membership information, contact Committee E-34 Staff Manager Teresa Cendrowska, ASTM (610/832-9718). //