Helping Workers Avoid Take-home Toxins

Helping Workers Avoid Take-home Toxins

Most industrial workers probably think they leave any work dangers behind once they leave for the day. However, experts say industrial workers may run the risk of carrying hazardous substances home from work on their clothes, bodies, tools and other items, possibly exposing their families to substances that may cause serious health effects.

In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) studied the issue of “take-home toxins” and found respiratory problems, neurological disorders, fatal poisonings and other health effects among workers’ families in 36 states. Contaminants causing health effects among workers’ families ranged from asbestos and beryllium to lead, mercury, arsenic and more.

Toxic Towels?

NIOSH notes that soft materials such as cloth are the hardest to clean and that lead, asbestos, pesticides and beryllium are especially difficult to remove-even after laundering. In a separate study on workplace toxins, researchers evaluated contaminants found on a common item in many industrial workplaces: the shop towel.

Shop towels are used countless times every day by factory workers, tradespeople and mechanics to wipe away sweat and grime from dirty hands or a sweaty brow, as well as to wipe up messes throughout the workplace.

The issue? Even when “freshly laundered,” all of the towels studied contained oil and grease, gardenscapes cheats and many contained elevated levels of heavy metals such as lead. The study showed how elevated levels of heavy metals on shop towels can get onto hands and then inadvertently into the mouth, where they might be ingested. These “toxic” shop towels can also come into contact with the lips when towels are used to wipe the face.

Some industry watchers responding to the study voiced concern that toxic elements on the towels could be transferred to workers’ homes and families if towels were taken home (a not uncommon scenario), or if the toxic elements were otherwise transferred from the worker’s skin, clothing or tools.

A California state assemblyman even went so far as to introduce a bill to require those selling reusable cloth shop towels to affix a warning notice to the towels stating that they may have been in contact with hazardous materials.

Eye On The Environment

In addition to being a potential health and safety issue for workers, reusable laundered shop towels are also thought to be responsible for 30 percent more landfilled solid waste hill climb racing hack ios than their disposable counterparts. Disposable wipers, on the other hand, contribute only one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s landfilled waste.

In addition, the laundering of reusable shop towels is responsible for as much as 95 percent of check more organic, inorganic and metal contaminants in the wastewater of industrial laundries. And it is estimated that 80 percent of the 13 million pounds of hazardous contamination that industrial laundries discharge into municipal sewer systems every year comes from the wastewater of laundered shop towels.

Depending on the size of the facility, industrial plants may use up to 100,000 shop towels or disposable wipers a year. Given the potential health/safety and environmental effects of laundered shop towels, many have called for businesses to consider replacing laundered shop towels with alternative wiping products.