Introduction  Summary  Substitution  Links  Contact



Frode Soerensen



Substitution of hazardous chemicals is a method to a fundamental and continued improvement of occupational health by selection and development of alternative technical processes using less hazardous chemicals or no chemicals at all. In a substitution, the chemicals in the final situation must be potentially less hazardous than in the initial situation, and the difference should be as great as possible. It is especially important to avoid chemicals with long-term effects of a carcinogenic, reprotoxic, allergenic or neurotoxic (organic brain damage) nature.

In this review I present methods, results and both practical and political experiences.  Substitutions will be presented for organic solvents in metal degreasing, bonding with adhesives, soldering and removal of flux in electronics industry, lubrication, cutting fluids, constructions paints and cleaning of offset printing machines, and for other hazardous chemicals such as epoxy resins, polyurethanes (isocyanates) and acrylates in coatings and adhesives, quartz sand for blasting, cadmium, fluor and boron compounds in soldering and brazing, and cyanides, nickel, and chromates in electroplating.

The main problem is to get less hazardous technical possibilities realized to a full extent in a foreseeable future. The reason is that human rights for life and health in working environment do not exist in reality. A model for serious work to realize less hazardous possibilities is the Montreal Protocol for substances that deplete the ozone-layer.

Less hazardous chemicals are not necessarily harmless, so the traditional preventive measures may still have to be used, but the substitution has reduced the level of hazards. Successful substitution may, however, require technical and organizational changes. Substitution of hazardous chemicals is one way to cleaner technology. Substitution is the opposite of biological monitoring where workers instead of hazardous chemicals are replaced.

The purpose of this presentation is to awaken the interest of working for substitution of hazardous chemicals in workplaces because it is now impossible seriously to do it in Denmark and EU. The combination of a general very positive verbal attitude to occupational health, e. g. substitution, and the lack of money for research and labour protection, regulations, prohibitions, fines and punishments for employers will secure a continued bad occupational health - experienced in Denmark as a pioneer country to avoid improvement in working environment.

Introduction Summary Substitution Links Contact