Why Safety is important!
Author: Eliza Douglas Date Posted:9 March 2021
Why safety is important.
Sydney Solvents always prides itself on being safe and helping all users of our products be safe when using our products, we have recently introduced gloves and other safety equipment to our range as well. The below information is from our 24-hour emergency response line 1800 127 406 it was not using one of our products but shows how things can go wrong at any time. The poisons information centre number is 13 11 26 also a very helpful place to start.
On our website, our data sheets are located here just under the main picture of the product
A call was received to our chemcall number 1800 127 406, the duration of the call was for approximately 15 mins the details are below,
The person was manufacturing alcohol for his homebrew with yeast, sugar and water, he had been exposed by inhalation.
Have been manufacturing Ethanol using Yeast Sugar and water to produce cleaning solvents. Used an internet guide on how to produce cleaning solvents and followed safety info which said gloves and eye protection, but nothing about respiratory protection, as such, haven't been wearing a respirator. Been doing it daily for two weeks. Initially lost my voice gradually over several days but it eventually returned. Woke up this morning and vomited what must have been a stomach full of blood.
Asked probing questions of the caller to get a better picture.
Closed in / confined workspace? Yes
Ventilation? No not really.
At any stage can he smell the off-gassing... a loud 'Yes all the time throughout!
Lightheaded at any time? Mostly.
Feeling sick? All the time. Fresh air natural or forced? No, not really
Breaks during the process where he was in the fresh air in between task stages? No, he was present throughout each batch.
Are you aware of the difference between ethanol and methanol? Just reading up on this today after I vomited.
Explained to the caller the problem of distilling ethanol and resulting impurities... one being methanol and that it is very toxic, especially to women reproductive systems and the intrauterine foetus.
Asked if he distils once only or resulting product re-distilled, and it is once only. This concludes a significant percentage remains impure and a lot of methanol. According to the internet guide, the first 50 MLS is methanol and to pour it off. But there are no tests to confirm the remaining product quality.
An advised caller to take SDSs for ethanol and methanol and attend his GP immediately. He will likely have poisoned himself gradually, possibly damaging his lungs and compromising the oxygen transfer through the repeated dosing of the alcohols and lack of oxygen. To follow the specialist advice without question and to cease production till a full review of practices and procedures takes place with expert advice.
He finally seemed to click on to what was being explained when I said he is inadvertently 'huffing' but in a continuous manner and could have easily killed himself. Briefly touched on flammability issues and he was now really startled and listening intently.
The young man has clearly been taking on considerable burdens of alcohol in a confined space environment over about two weeks and is lucky to be alive.
Asked how he got the CHEMCALL number, and it was a Google search finding a Sydney Solvents SDS with CHEMCALL as the emergency advice number.