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November/December 2009

Metal removal fluids

Metal Removal Fluids

Metalworking Fluids

ASTM International Subcommittee E34.50 on Health and Safety Standards for Metalworking Fluids has developed three new standards. Two of the standards cover aspects of water-miscible metalworking fluids, while the third concerns the prevention of dermatitis in the wet metal removal fluid environment.

Prevention of Dermatitis

Dermatitis is an inflammatory response of the skin to a chemical or physical agent. While redness, swelling and itching are typical signs of dermatitis, symptoms can be more severe as well.

A new ASTM standard, E2693, Practice for Prevention of Dermatitis in the Wet Metal Removal Fluid Environment, discusses dermatitis and its causes and presents a comprehensive approach to dermatitis prevention and fluid management, including advice on equipment design, fluid and additive selection, maintenance procedures and mist control.

“No previous standard existed to address prevention of dermatitis, which is the most common occupational illness associated with metal removal fluids,” says Slavin. “Primary users of E2693 will be employers who use metal removal fluids in machining operations as coolants, lubricants and cutting or grinding oils.”

Occupational acne

Occupational Acne

Metalworking Fluids

Two new E34.50 standards address the detection of microbial contamination in metalworking fluids: E2657, Test Method for Determination of Endotoxin Concentrations in Water-Miscible Metalworking Fluids, and E2694, Test Method for Measurement of Adenosine Triphosphate in Water-Miscible Metalworking Fluids.

Both E2657 and E2694 measure biological contamination in metalworking fluids and produce test results that can be used to monitor the condition of these fluids.

“Historically, the primary tool for determining microbial contamination in MWF was by culturing samples,” says Frederick Passman, president, Biodeterioration Control Associates Inc., and chair, E34.50. “Depending on the microbe of interest, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to 20 days to get an accurate picture. However, E2694 provides data in less than 10 minutes. This is a powerful tool for both fluid management and for determining whether there’s likely to be a significant bioaerosol exposure risk.”

Passman notes that, in contrast to E2694, which detects all actively growing bacteria and fungi, the endotoxin test in E2657 specifically detects biomolecules known to cause respiratory disease. “E2657 will probably be used more as a diagnostic tool in facilities where respiratory illness has been reported,” Passman says. “In this application, E2657 will be a valuable tool for determining whether endotoxin exposure is likely to be contributing to respiratory disease in a facility.”

Eczema from contact with cutting fluids

Eczema from contact with cutting fluids.

Interlaboratory Study

The subcommittee is currently looking for participants for an interlaboratory study for E2657 and E2694. “We plan to use a single set of MWF for both standards, so labs who are interested in either or both are welcome to participate,” says Passman. “A few labs will run both the ILSs for both standards, while most will run one or the other.”

Subcommittee E34.50 is part of ASTM International Committee E34 on Occupational Health and Safety. The subcommittee welcomes participation in its activities, especially a new project on control of respiratory health hazards in the metal removal fluid environment.

“Anyone with information on health effects, fluid management practices, testing and maintenance, selection and use of additives, engineering control methods, safe work practices, air monitoring, medical surveillance, communication or training can make a valuable contribution to our efforts,” says Thomas Slavin, global safety and health director, Navistar Inc., and a subcommittee member.


Technical Information: (E2693) Thomas Slavin, Navistar Inc., Warrenville, Ill.

Phone: 312-836-3929

(E2657, E2694) Frederick Passman, Biodeterioration Control Associates Inc. , Princeton, N.J.

Phone: 609-716-0200

ASTM Staff: Kevin Shanahan

Phone: 610-832-9737