OSHA Technical Manual (OTM) TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A]
Section III - Health Hazards, Chapter 1 - POLYMER MATRIX MATERIALS: ADVANCED COMPOSITES
SECTION III: CHAPTER 1
POLYMER MATRIX MATERIALS: ADVANCED COMPOSITES
Appendix III:1-1. Glossary
A. Composites are classified according to their matrix phase. There are polymer matrix composites (PMC's), ceramic matrix composites (CMC's), and metal matrix composites (MMC's). Materials within these categories are often called "advanced" if they combine the properties of high strength and high stiffness, low weight, corrosion resistance, and in some cases special electrical properties. This combination of properties makes advanced composites very attractive for aircraft and aerospace structural parts.
B. This chapter deals with a segment of the polymer composite industry known as advanced polymer matrix composites, or advanced composites. Since the reinforced plastics, or polymer matrix composite industry is much larger than the subject of this chapter, the term "advanced composites" is used here to define this special segment of the industry. Information on this industry has been developed for use by OSHA field personnel to help them understand this new and growing technology.
C. Advanced composites have been identified as an important growth sector in U.S. manufacturing. This identification has led to more use of these materials in existing facilities as well as an increase in the number of advanced composites manufacturing locations. Field staff may expect to encounter composites more frequently in the course of their assignments. At the same time, much of the technology is new and not presented formally in secondary or undergraduate education.
D. Information is presented here on the technology as practiced in current operations. The technology of advanced composites manufacture is continually evolving, and field personnel will learn here what to expect in these processing facilities in the way of materials handled, manufacturing methods, machinery, potential worker exposures, and other relevant health and safety information
E. The information presented necessarily makes reference to industrial hygiene and safe work practices, but this manual is not intended to provide comprehensive guidelines for assessing compliance with regulations. Much of the terminology used in this manual is peculiar to the composites industry, and for this reason a glossary of terms has been provided in Appendix III:1-1.
OVERVIEW OF THE INDUSTRY
A. INDUSTRIAL COMPOSITES The industrial composites industry has been in place for over 40 years in the U.S. This large industry utilizes various resin systems including polyester, epoxy, and other specialty resins. These materials, along with a catalyst or curing agent and some type of fiber reinforcement (typically glass fibers) are used in the production of a wide spectrum of industrial components and consumer goods: boats, piping, auto bodies, and a variety of other parts and components.
B. ADVANCED COMPOSITES
1. This sector of the composites industry is characterized by the use of expensive, high-performance resin systems and high-strength, high-stiffness fiber reinforcement. The aerospace industry, including military and commercial aircraft of all types, is the major customer for advanced composites. These materials have also been adopted for use by the sporting goods suppliers who sell high-performance equipment to the golf, tennis, fishing, and archery markets.
2. While aerospace is the predominant market for advanced composites today, the industrial and automotive markets will increasingly see the use of advanced composites toward the year 2000. At present, both manual and automated processes are employed in making advanced-composite parts. As automated processes become more predominant, the costs of advanced composites are expected to decline to the point at which these materials will be used widely in electronic, machinery, and surface transportation equipment.
3. Suppliers of advanced composite materials tend to be larger companies capable of doing the research and development necessary to provide the high-performance resin systems used in this segment of the industry. End-users also tend to be large, and many are in the aircraft and aerospace businesses.
4. Advanced composite systems are divided into two basic types, thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermosets are by far the predominant type in use today. Thermosets are subdivided into several resin systems including epoxies, phenolics, polyurethanes, and polyimides. Of these, epoxy systems currently dominate the advanced composite industry. Both thermoset and thermoplastic systems will be discussed in more detail in Section IV of this chapter.
A. ELEMENTS The feature common to all composite processes is the combining of a resin, a curing agent, some type of reinforcing fiber, and in some cases a solvent. Typically, heat and pressure are used to shape and "cure" the mixture into a finished part. In composites, the resin acts to hold the fibers together and protect them, and to transfer the load to the fibers in the fabricated composite part. The curing agent, also known as hardener, acts as a catalyst and helps in curing the resin to a hard plastic. The reinforcing fiber imparts strength and other required properties to the composite. Solvents may serve three purposes:
§ as part of the resin mixture;
§ as part of the process; and
§ as a cleaning agent for removing residue from the process equipment.
B. MAJOR PROCESSES Diagrams of the major processes used in the advanced composites industry are provided in Section A of this chapter. The processes vary widely in type of equipment and potential worker exposure. Several of the processes are automated; however, some are manual and require worker contact with the part during manufacture. The basic process types are described below.
0. Formulation is the process where the resin, curing agent, and any other component required are mixed together. This process may involve adding the components manually into a small mixing vessel or, in the case of larger processes, the components may be pumped into a mixing vessel. The potential hazards involve skin, eye, and respiratory contact with the ingredients or final formulation.
1. Prepregging is the process where the resin and curing agent mixture are impregnated into the reinforcing fiber. These impregnated reinforcements (also known as prepregs) take three main forms: woven fabrics, roving, and unidirectional tape. Fabrics and tapes are provided as continuous rolls in widths up to 72 inches and lengths up to several hundred feet. The fabric or tape thickness constitutes one ply in the construction of a multi-ply layup. Impregnated roving is wound onto cores or bobbins and is used for filament winding. Once the resin mixture has been impregnated onto the fibers, the prepreg must be stored in a refrigerator or freezer until ready for use in the manufacturing process. This cold storage prevents the chemical reaction from occurring prematurely. Prepreg materials are used widely in the advanced composite industry, particularly in aircraft and aerospace. Potential exposure is generally from handling of the fiber or resin.
2. Open Molding processes are those where the part being manufactured is exposed to the atmosphere. The worker typically handles the part manually, and there is a higher potential for exposure. The resin mixture may be a liquid being formed onto a reinforcing material or it may be in the form of a prepreg material being formed for final cure.
3. Closed Molding processes are those in which all or part of the manufacture takes place in a closed vessel or chamber. The liquid resin mixture or prepreg material may be handled or formed manually into the container for the curing step. In the case of liquid resin mixtures, these may be pumped into the container, usually a mold of some type, for the curing step. These processes usually have less worker exposure potential, particularly if the entire process is closed.
4. Sequential or batch processes involve manufacture of a single part at a time, in sequence. This type of process is usually required where the part being made is small and complex in shape, when the curing phase is critical, when finishing work must be minimized, or where a small number of parts is involved.
5. Continuous processes are typically automated to some degree and are used to produce larger numbers of identical parts relatively quickly. These processes are typified by pumping of the resin mixture into the mold, followed by closed curing.
POLYMER MATRIX COMPOSITE (PMC) RESIN SYSTEMS
A. RESINS The resin systems used to manufacture advanced composites are of two basic types: thermosetting and thermoplastic. Thermosetting resins predominate today, while thermoplastics have only a minor role in advanced composites manufacture.
0. Thermoset resins require addition of a curing agent or hardener and impregnation onto a reinforcing material, followed by a curing step to produce a cured or finished part. Once cured, the part cannot be changed or reformed, except for finishing. Some of the more common thermosets include:
§ phenolic and amino resins
§ bismaleimides (BMI, polyimides)
1. Of these, epoxies are the most commonly used in today's PMC industry. Epoxy resins have been in use in U.S. industry for over 40 years. The basic epoxy compounds most commonly used in industry are the reaction product of epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A. Epoxy compounds are also referred to as glycidyl compounds. There are several types of epoxy compounds including glycidyl ethers (or diglycidyl ethers), glycidyl esters, and glycidyl amines. Several of these compounds are reactive diluents and are sometimes added to the basic resin to modify performance characteristics. The epoxy molecule can also be expanded or cross-linked with other molecules to form a wide variety of resin products, each with distinct performance characteristics. These resins range from low-viscosity liquids to high-molecular weight solids. Typically they are high-viscosity liquids.
2. Since epoxies are relatively high molecular-weight compounds, the potential for respiratory exposure is fairly low. The potential for respiratory exposure is increased when the resin mixture is applied by spraying or when curing temperatures are high enough to volatilize the resin mixture. The potential for dermal exposure is typically much greater than respiratory exposure when working with epoxies. Several advanced composite processes involve some worker contact with the resin mixture. These and the other processes are discussed in more detail in Section V of this chapter.
3. The second of the essential ingredients of an advanced composite system is the curing agent or hardener. These compounds are very important because they control the reaction rate and determine the performance characteristics of the finished part. Since these compounds act as catalysts for the reaction, they must contain active sites on their molecules.
4. Some of the most commonly used curing agents in the advanced composite industry are the aromatic amines. Two of the most common are 4,4'-methylene-dianiline (MDA) and 4,4'-sulfonyldianiline (DDS). Like the epoxies, these compounds have a very low vapor pressure and usually do not present an airborne hazard unless in a mixture that is sprayed or cured at high temperatures. However, potential for dermal exposure is frequently high. The aromatic amines may permeate many of the commonly used protective gloves and thus may be particularly difficult to protect against.
5. Several other types of curing agents are also used in the advanced composite industry. These include aliphatic and cycloaliphatic amines, polyaminoamides, amides, and anhydrides. Again, the choice of curing agent depends on the cure and performance characteristics desired for the finished part.
6. Polyurethanes are another group of resins used in advanced composite processes. These compounds are formed by reacting the polyol component with an isocyanate compound, typically toluene diisocyanate (TDI); methylene diisocyanate (MDI) and hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) are also widely used. While the polyols are relatively innocuous, the isocyanates can represent a significant respiratory hazard as well as a dermal hazard.
7. Phenolic and amino resins are another group of PMC resins. With respect to the phenol-formaldehyde resins, the well-known hazards of both phenol and formaldehyde must be protected against. In addition to traces of free formaldehyde, they may also contain free phenol, and contact with these resins in the uncured state is to be avoided. The urea- and melamine-formaldehyde resins present similar hazards. Free formaldehyde, which is present in trace amounts and may be liberated when their resins are processed, can irritate the mucous membranes.
8. The bismaleimides and polyamides are relative newcomers to the advanced composite industry and have not been studied to the extent of the other resins.
C. THERMOPLASTICS Thermoplastics currently represent a relatively small part of the PMC industry. They are typically supplied as nonreactive solids (no chemical reaction occurs during processing) and require only heat and pressure to form the finished part. Unlike the thermosets, the thermoplastics can usually be reheated and reformed into another shape, if desired.
D. FIBER REINFORCEMENTS
0. Fiber reinforcement materials are added to the resin system to provide strength to the finished part. The selection of reinforcement material is based on the properties desired in the finished product. These materials do not react with the resin but are an integral part of the advanced composite system.
1. Potential worker exposure is typically higher in facilities that manufacture the fibers or use them to produce prepreg material. Most of the fibers in use are considered to be in the nonrespirable range. However, they do have the potential to cause eye, skin, and upper respiratory tract irritation as a result of the mechanical properties of the fibers.
2. The three basic types of fiber reinforcement materials in use in the advanced composite industry are:
§ glass fibers
§ chopped strands
§ woven fabric
3. The most commonly used reinforcement materials are carbon/graphite fibers. (The terms graphite and carbon are often used interchangeably.) This is due to the fact that many of the desired performance characteristics require the use of carbon/graphite fibers. Currently, these fibers are produced from three types of materials known as precursor fibers:
§ polyacrylonitrile (PAN)
§ petroleum pitch
4. Aramid fibers are another human-made product. These fibers are produced by manufacturing the basic polymer, then spinning it into either a paper-like configuration or into fiber. Aramid fibers have several useful characteristics:
§ high strength and modulus;
§ temperature stability;
§ flex performance;
§ dimensional stability:
§ chemical resistance; and
§ textile processibility.
5. Textile (continuous filament) glass fibers are the type used in composite reinforcement. These fibers differ from the wool type in that they are die-drawn rather than spun.
6. A number of solvents are used in the advanced composites industry. These may be introduced into the workplace in three basic ways:
§ as part of the resin or curing agent;
§ during the manufacturing process; or
§ as part of the cleanup process.
§ chlorinated hydrocarbons
§ in small containers near process equipment;
§ in larger containers (drums or vats) for soaking and cleaning; and
§ in process equipment containers (tanks, reactors, molds, etc.).
DESCRIPTION OF PROCESSES
A. RESIN FORMULATION Resin formulation consists of mixing epoxy or other resins with other ingredients to achieve desired performance parameters. These ingredients may be curing agents, accelerators, reactive diluents, pigments, etc.
FIGURE III:1-1. SOLUTION PREPEGGING.
B. PREPREGGING Prepregging involves the application of formulated resin products, in solution or molten form, to a reinforcement such as carbon, fiberglass or aramid fiber or cloth. The reinforcement is saturated by dipping through the liquid resin (solution form, see Figure III:1-1) or by being impregnated through heat and pressure (hot melt form, see Figure III:1-2).
FIGURE III:1-2. HOT MELT PREPEGGING
C. WET FILAMENT WINDING In the filament wet winding process, continuous fiber reinforcement materials are drawn through a container of resin mixture (Figure III:1-3) and formed onto a rotating mandrel to achieve the desired shape. After winding, the part is cured in an oven.
FIGURE III:1-3. WET FILAMENT WINDING.
D. HAND LAY-UP OF PREPREG A prepreg product is laid down and formed to the desired shape (Figure III:1-4). Several layers may be required. After forming, the lay-up assembly is moved to an autoclave for cure under heat, vacuum and pressure.
FIGURE III:1-4. HAND LAY-UP OF PREPREG.
E. AUTOMATED TAPE LAY-UP In this process, the prepreg tape material is fed through an automated tape application machine (robot). The tape is applied across the surface of a mold in multiple layers by the preprogrammed robot (Figure III:1-5).
FIGURE III:1-5. AUTOMATED LAY-UP.
F. RESIN TRANSFER MOLDING Resin transfer molding is used when parts with two smooth surfaces are required or when a low-pressure molding process is advantageous. Fiber reinforcement fabric or mat is laid by hand into a mold and resin mixture is poured or injected into the mold cavity. The part is then cured under heat and pressure (Figure III:1-6).
FIGURE III:1-6. RESIN TRANSFER MOLDING.
G. PULTRUSION In the pultrusion process, continuous roving strands are pulled from a creel through a strand-tensioning device into a resin bath. The coated strands are then passed through a heated die where curing occurs. The continuous cured part, usually a rod or similar shape, is then cut to the desired length (Figure III:1-7).
FIGURE III:1-7. PULTRUSION.
H. INJECTION MOLDING One of the older plastics processes, injection molding is also the most closed process. It is not normally used in PMC processes due to fiber damage in the plasticating barrel. Thermoplastic granules are fed via a hopper into a screw-like plasticating barrel where melting occurs (Figure III:1-8). The melted plastic is injected into a heated mold where the part is formed. This process is often fully automated.
FIGURE III:1-8. INJECTION MOLDING.
I. VACUUM BAGGING & AUTOCLAVE CURING Most parts made by hand lay-up or automated tape lay-up must be cured by a combination of heat, pressure, vacuum, and inert atmosphere. To achieve proper cure, the part is placed into a plastic bag inside an autoclave (Figure III:1-9). A vacuum is applied to the bag to remove air and volatile products. Heat and pressure are applied for curing. Usually an inert atmosphere is provided inside the autoclave through the introduction of nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Exotherms may occur if the curing step is not done properly.
FIGURE III:1-9. VACUUM BAGGING AND AUTOCLAVE.
J. MACHINING FINISHING Many of the parts made in PMC processes require some machining and/or finishing work. This may involve drilling, sanding, grinding, or other manual touch-up work. These processes vary widely, depending on the size of the finished part and the amount of finishing work required.
K. FIELD REPAIR Repair of damaged PMC parts is frequently required. The process may consist of several steps including cutting out of the damaged material, depainting of the surface to be repaired, patching and sanding of the damaged area, and repainting of the repaired area.
A. RESINS The resins used in advanced composite processes have high molecular weights (MW > 10,000) with low vapor pressures. High molecular weight is generally associated with decreased volatility. In an epoxy system, the resin components have very low vapor pressures and they are not present as a volatilized airborne hazard.
0. As discussed earlier, epoxy resinsare currently the most commonly used resins in the advanced composite industry. The basic epoxy molecule is a reaction product of epichlorohydrin (ECH) and bisphenol-A (BPA). Some epoxies contain trace amounts of residual ECH typically in the range of <1 to 10 ppm (by weight). Industrial hygiene air monitoring for ECH has been done in a number of workplaces, involving a variety of epoxy resin end-uses. Most of the monitoring has shown no detectable levels of ECH in the air. Uncured epoxy resins can present a significant dermal exposure hazard. In many workplaces, manual processing results in potential skin exposure. This can result in skin irritation, rashes and, subsequently, dermatitis if contact is prolonged. Sensitization to the resins can also develop and may require a change of work assignment.
1. Polyurethane resins are reaction products of polyols and isocyanates. The significant hazard associated with these resin systems is the presence of isocyanates. Exposure to highly toxic isocyanates can have adverse health effects. Exposure to the vapor may cause irritation of the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Irritation may be severe enough to produce bronchitis and pulmonary edema. Polyurethane resins contacting the eyes may cause severe irritation, and if polyurethane resins are allowed to remain in contact with the skin, they may produce redness, swelling, and blistering of the skin. Respiratory sensitization (an allergic, asthmatic-type reaction) may occur. Among the isocyanates, there is also evidence of cross-sensitization, in which a worker is sensitized to one isocyanate but reacts to others as well.
2. The phenol-formaldehyde resins must be handled with adequate ventilation. Traces of free formaldehyde and phenol may be present. Contact with these resins should be avoided because of the toxicity of these components and the skin-absorption potential of phenol. These components may also be given off during the curing process.
3. The acute toxicity of urea-formaldehyde resinsis very similar to the phenol-formaldehyde resins. Free formaldehyde, which is present in trace amounts and may be liberated when the resins are processed, can have an irritating effect on mucous membranes. Skin sensitization to formaldehyde has been observed.
4. The health effects of bismaleimideresin systems have not been extensively studied. Manufacturers of these materials indicate that prolonged or repeated contact may cause skin irritation or sensitization. Dust or vapor from heated products may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
5. Polyether and polyester polyols present no particular health hazard in industrial processing.
6. Thermoplastic resins in general are not considered harmful to workers' health. These resins appear harmless when ingested, and no skin irritation has been reported. No toxic effects are known to be associated with the inhalation of thermoplastic-resin dust. Treating it as nuisance or inert dust seems appropriate, although the presence of unreacted monomers may be of concern. These materials present a thermal hazard when handling. Molding operations may give off vapors which are irritating to the eyes and cause cold-like symptoms. Some thermoplastics are styrene-based, and presence of this monomer may be of concern.
B. CURING AGENTS
1. Curing agents, or hardeners, used with the epoxy resins are mostly amines, amides, or anhydrides. Two of the most widely used are the aromatic amines, MDA (4,4'-methylenedianiline) and DDS (4,4'-diaminodiphenyl-sulfone).
2. Analysis and review of epidemiologic data and human and animal toxicity data indicates that occupational exposure to MDA may result in reversible liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity). The retina of the eye might be damaged not only by direct contact but also from MDA absorbed through ingestion. MDA is an animal carcinogen and a suspect human carcinogen by any exposure route: ingestion, inhalation, or dermal.
3. Frequently, curing agents containing mixtures of these amines can cause skin staining in processes requiring dermal contact, even when protective gloves are used. Brown and orange stains on walls and ceilings have also been reported. The skin staining has been attributed to MDA; dermal absorption is approximately 2% per hour. Soap and water, rather than any organic solvent, should be used for skin clean-up to avoid any solvent increase of transdermal absorption.
4. The OSHA permissible exposure limits (PEL'S) for MDA are 10 ppb (parts per billion) expressed as an 8-hour time-weighted average, and a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 100 ppb averaged over any 15-minute period for either general industry or construction uses of MDA. The FR 57(154): 35630 (August 10, 1992) issue published the Final Rule for 29 CFR Parts 1910 and 1926: Occupational Exposure to 4,4'Methylenedianiline (MDA).
5. Another of the amines, DDS, has a significant amount of toxicological data as its pharmaceutical grade, DapsoneTM, has been used for years to treat leprosy and certain types of chronic dermal inflammation. However, at low airborne concentrations, there are no known effects from workplace exposure.
6. Other aromatic amines used in the advanced composites industry include m-phenylene diamine and the various isomers of toluenediamine. These aromatic amines are considered to be only slightly irritating to the skin.
7. Aliphatic and cycloaliphatic amines are strong bases and are considered to be severe eye and skin irritants. Inhalation of these amines can cause irritation of the nose and throat, and lung irritation with respiratory distress. Some of these amines are also skin and respiratory-tract sensitizers. Vapors of the volatile amines may cause conjunctivitis and visual disturbances.
8. Polyaminoamide hardeners have a less irritating effect on the skin and mucous membranes than the aliphatic and cycloaliphatic amine hardeners, but may cause sensitization.
9. Amide hardeners generally have only a slight irritant effect. Should the handling of these hardeners generate dust, measures should be taken to prevent inhalation.
10. The dusts of high-melting solids like most anhydride curing agents are severe eye and skin irritants. Some hydrophthalic anhydrides have high vapor pressures at the usual processing and curing temperatures and the vapors evolved during use of these curing agents can have an irritating effect on the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Exposure to the high-melting solids like trimellitic anhydride and tetraphthalic anhydride can cause respiratory sensitization.
C. REINFORCEMENT FIBERS Most of the reinforcing materials used in the industry have the potential to cause eye, skin, and upper respiratory tract irritation as a result of the mechanical-irritant properties of the fibers. The potential synergism has not been clearly defined. The chemical irritation caused by resins can compound the mechanical irritation caused by the fibers.
Carbon/graphite fibers dominate the advanced composites
industry and may be made from any of three precursors, as discussed in Section
C. However, the PAN-based carbon fibers are the predominant form in use today.
It is important to ascertain which type of carbon-fiber precursor is used in
order to evaluate the hazards.
2. Aramid fibers are made from a polymer, poly(p-phenylenediamine terephthalate). Animal and human skin tests of KevlarTM aramid fibers show no potential for skin sensitization and low potential for irritation. While KevlarTM fibers are too large to be inhaled (12-15 mm), they may be fractured into respirable fibrils in some composite manufacturing processes. Industrial process monitoring shows that airborne respirable fibril levels are low in typical operations. Measured exposure levels from composite machining are typically below 0.2 fibrils per milliliter of air (0.2 f/ml), as an 8-hour, time-weighted average (TWA), while continuous filament handling generates less than 0.1 f/ml. The physical structure of aramid fibers makes it extremely difficult to generate airborne concentrations.
Glass fibers, used as reinforcement in PMC processes,
are a continuous-filament form and not the glass-wool (random) type.
Practically all glass fibers for composite reinforcement are greater than six
microns in diameter. Airborne fiber of this diameter does not reach the alveoli
and is nonrespirable. Glass fibers break only into shorter fragments of the
same diameter. Their diameter cannot be reduced by machining, milling, or other
1. Dusts may be generated in several ways in advanced composite processes. The most common dust-generating processes are machining and finishing of cured parts and in repair of damaged parts. Much of the dust generated in these processes can be very fine and should be considered respirable. Studies of some graphite-epoxy finishing operations found respirable fractions ranging from 25% to 100%.
2. More dust is usually generated in finishing and repair processes since large surface areas are involved. Grinding, routing and sanding are frequently used methods in both processes. The repair process may require the use of abrasive blasting as well as sanding to remove existing paint or coatings. Typically, a synthetic blasting agent, e.g., plastic media blast, is used. Ingredients of the paint or coating being removed, such as lead or chromates, may also be of concern. The repair process may also require cutting or sawing to remove the damaged part area, and both may generate significant amounts of airborne dust.
3. In general, studies on composite dusts indicate that:
§ The dusts are particulate in nature and usually contain few fibers;
§ The dusts are thermally stable up to 250 °C and exhibit a high degree of cure; and
§ Toxicology studies indicate the dusts should probably be controlled at levels below the PEL for inert dust, but not approaching the PEL for crystalline quartz.
1. Many of the solvents used in advanced composite processes are volatile and flammable. Most are skin and eye irritants, and some may be readily absorbed through the skin. Precautions must be taken when using organic solvents because they can facilitate the entry of toxic materials into the skin and organ systems. They may also enhance skin sensitization caused by the resin systems. Some (such as methyl alcohol) are poisonous, and all are capable of extracting fat from skin. Harmful effects from industrial exposures come principally from skin contact and inhalation.
2. Selection of the proper glove for protection is important. Permeation data are available for many industrial chemicals, especially solvents. However, in the case of resins and curing agents, not much data are available. This also is true for mixtures of solvents, as little or no testing has been done. Often the glove selection process is one of trial and error. If a skin rash or dermatitis is observed there are several possible causes:
§ the wrong gloves may have been selected;
§ improper work practices are being followed;
§ the employee is deficient in personal hygiene practices; or
§ adequate washing facilities are absent.
3. Several of the solvent classes most commonly found in the PMC workplace are listed below, along with general hazard information.
4. Several ketones are frequently found in PMC manufacture. These include:
§ acetone (DMK)
§ methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
§ methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK)
5. Some of the lower-boiling alcohols are sometimes used in composites manufacture. These include:
§ methanol (methyl alcohol)
§ ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
§ isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol)
6. Three chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds in particular are found in the composites workplace:
§ methylene chloride (dichloromethane)
§ 1,1,1-trichloroethane (methyl chloroform)
7. Other solvents that may occasionally be used are:
§ tetrahydrofuran (THF)
§ dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)
§ dimethylformamide (DMF)
§ gamma-butyrolactone (BLO)
§ n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP)
§ n-butyl acetate
§ glycol ethers
B. ENGINEERING CONTROLS Isolation (e.g., isolated storage, separate process areas, enclosures, closed systems) and local exhaust ventilation are the primary engineering controls found in advanced composites processes. These controls can be found in:
§ Resin mixing areas;
§ Heated curing areas including autoclaves;
§ Finishing and repair areas; and
§ Controlling off-gases from exotherms
C. WORK PRACTICE CONTROLS Work practices, as distinguished from engineering controls, involve the way a task is performed. Some fundamental and easily implemented work practices that can be used to minimize exposures when working with advanced composites are:
§ good employee training and education;
§ following the proper procedures for production, process and control equipment;
§ proper use, maintenance, and cleaning of personal protective equipment;
§ good personal hygiene program;
§ periodic inspection and maintenance of production, process and control equipment; and
§ good supervision.
D. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
1. Gloves, protective clothing, and eye protection may frequently be required, especially when working with resins, curing agents, and solvents. Selection of the proper protective materials should be based on permeation data, if available. This type of data are often available for the solvents used, but very little data are available for the resins and curing agents.
2. In many advanced composites processes several chemicals or mixtures are involved. There are essentially no permeation data available for chemical mixtures. This means that, in many cases, glove and clothing selection must be a trial and error process.
3. Generally, the resins are of a larger molecular size and so are less likely to permeate protective materials than the curing agents and solvents. The aromatic amine curing agents are particularly difficult to protect against. In some advanced composites processes, close hand work and contact is required, and a glove must provide good tactility. Often this type of glove provides the least protection against the resin and curing agent.
4. Eye protection can be provided by standard safety glasses with side shields, goggles, or a face shield, as needed.
5. Respiratory protection is not required in many advanced composites processes, due to the low vapor pressure of the materials involved. However, respirators may be required where:
§ Airborne solvent levels are high;
§ Dust levels are high (resin mixing, finishing, repair);
§ Large surface areas and significant hand work are involved; and
§ Exotherms are experienced.
E. ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS Employee exposures also can be controlled by scheduling operations with the highest exposures at a time when the fewest employees are present.
Advanced Composites Glossary. Blaise Technoire, San Marcos, Calif.
Copyright (c) 2006 Ventura Enterprises. All rights reserved.