What do the cleaning, agricultural and paint-making industry workers have in common? While all produce helpful common household goods, there is one particular commonality that stands out from a safety perspective - solvent exposure. 

What are solvents?

Either liquid or gases, solvents possess the capability to dissolve or disperse other substances. Most commonly, solvents are found in cleaning materials, adhesives, printing material, dry cleaning or paint thinners. Both volatile and flammable, solvents are a safety hazard to those working around them. 

Health effects

Solvents are tricky. Because of their vaporous nature, solvents may easily enter the body through absorption through the skin or eyes, inhalation or accidental swallowing. Once absorbed, solvents may enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. 

Most solvents possess toxic qualities that cause:

·         Nervous system damage

·         Reproductive damage

·         Liver, kidney and respiratory impairment

·         Cancer

·         Dermatitis

·         Death in some cases

Safety precautions

Because of their hazardous nature, precautions must be effected for everyone’s safety and there several practical steps to ensure safety around solvents. 

·        Make sure employees have access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). These provide direction in handling, storing and disposing of solvents

·         Provide well-ventilated rooms on the worksite to rid air of traces of solvents

·         Ensure all solvents are stored and labelled correctly

·         Wear gloves and masks when handling solvents

·         Ensure worker’s safety by utilizing Examinetics’ respirator fit testing services

·        Check OSHA website for specific details regarding hazard recognition, evaluating exposure and possible scenarios and solutions



OSHA Safety and Health topic: Solvents

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Medical Director Review



This is business-to-business information intended for EHS (environmental health and safety) professionals and not intended for the final consumer. Companies should check the local regulatory status of any claim according to their individual needs, requirements and intended use.