New Alconox Blog



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Interphex Puerto Rico 2008, Alconox Booth #39

Will Alconox, Inc attend the INTERPHEX Puerto Rico 2008 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Conference and Exhibition?

Alconox, Inc will be attending the INTERPHEX Puerto Rico 2008 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Conference and Exhibition at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, San Juan on February 14-15, 2008. Stop by our booth #39 for your free copy the Guide to Critical Cleaning or Aqueous Cleaning Handbook! Great opportunity to "Ask Alconox" and get expert advice about your industrial cleaning needs! Mark your calendars for INTERPHEX Puerto Rico 2008 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Conference and Exhibition!

INTERPHEX Puerto Rico is the pharmaceutical industry's respected source of innovation, education, and professional advancement for a globally important center of drug manufacturing, from process development through delivery to market. Networking essential to business success is as important here as the exploration of new products and services that enhance human life and health.

For more information on INTERPHEX, please click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sustainable, Safe, and Reduced Wasted Cleaning Processes

Is it possible in today's manufacturing environments to use safe, clean, reduced wasted cleaning processes that are ultimately sustainable?

Yes it is possible in today's manufacturing environments to employ sustainable, safe, clean, and reduced wasted cleaning processes! The first step in evaluating the environmental health and safety of an aqueous cleaner is to secure the material safety data sheet and technical bulletins for the cleaners you plan to test or use, and to assemble as much information as you can about the soils you will be removing. A review of this information should disclose important environmental and health hazards as well as regulations.

When performing an initial review of regulations for an aqueous cleaner, it is important to consider Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permits, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sewer connection/extension permits, and any Resource Conservation and Reclamation Act (RCRA) hazardous waste class or Clean Water Act regulations. State and local environmental regulations should also be considered.

It is wise to conduct a full scale environmental audit no matter what type of cleaning system you are using. Such an audit may result in changes in the way you currently manufacture and clean. In fact, after conducting a full-scale environmental audit many companies turn to aqueous cleaning achieve regulatory compliance easily and safely. A program of regular re-auditing can assure continued regulatory compliance.

Compared to hazardous nonaqueous and semiaqueous cleaners-particularly, those containing ozone-depleting fluorocarbon solvents, carcinogenic organic solvents, and/or flammable components-aqueous cleaners are good choices for safe, environmentally sound cleaning. By choosing high quality, environmentally sound aqueous cleaners, most cleaning problems can be solved without endangering workers or the environment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Safety Issues in Aqueous Cleaning

What are the safety issues involved in aqueous cleaning?

Worker safety issues, for aqueous cleaners, involve skin exposure, eye exposure, ingestion, inhalation, and chronic systemic exposure. Consult the label and material safety data sheet on the cleaner for warnings and safety precautions.

When cleaning by hand, it is always good practice to wear protective gloves. Even the mildest cleaners can sometimes cause "dishpan-hands". Gloves also provide protection and comfort when working, by hand, with hot solutions. In fact, many highly acidic or alkaline cleaners require the use of chemical-resistant gloves for worker safety. Eye exposure is also a concern with many aqueous cleaners.

Eye tissue is particularly vulnerable to attack by chemically active aqueous solutions. Accordingly, it is also considered good industrial practice to wear safety glasses or other eye protection when working with aqueous-cleaning solutions. Particularly hazardous aqueous cleaners should have warnings and recommended eye protection on the label.

In addition, there may be inhalation hazards with some aqueous cleaners. Because aqueous cleaners generally do not have volatile solvent ingredients, it is somewhat unusual to find the need for respiratory protection with such cleaners. However, it is considered good industrial practice to have some respiratory protection when working with sprays and mists in open-spray cleaning. Any special ventilation required should be noted on the material safety data sheet. Some semiaqueous cleaners may contain volatile solvents that require special ventilation and possibly even flammability controls.

While it is relatively unusual for an aqueous cleaner to contain any carcinogenic ingredients, the cleaner's material safety data sheet should disclose any long-term chronic exposure concerns relating to carcinogenicity.

Physical safety issues with aqueous cleaners, generally, concern storage and handling to avoid any hazardous reactions with other industrial chemicals. Good industrial practice usually involves storing acid and alkaline chemicals separately to avoid any reactions between them in the event of accidental spills. Some aqueous cleaners contain bleaches or other oxidizing agents that should be stored away from reactive chemicals that might undergo hazardous oxidation reactions. As previously mentioned, most completely aqueous cleaners are not flammable. However, some aqueous cleaners contain ingredients that form hazardous chemicals when burned. (It is considered good practice to wear respiratory protection when fighting any fire involving industrial chemicals.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cleaning Machined Plastic Implants

After machining plastic implants, what is the recommendation for an in process cleaning using a small ultrasonic tank?

The recommendation would be to use 1% Liquinox (a mild alkaline, emulsifying and dispersing cleaner) at a temperature well within the temperature tolerance of the plastic. Warm solutions clean faster than ambient temperature ones, so if some heat is an option, use it. Liquinox would not harm plastics other than possibly stressed polycarbonate where there is potential for stress cracking. Stressed polycarbonate in the presence of heat and low surface tension solution (like a solvent or a detergent) will undergo stress cracking (fogging or crazing). Very dilute (0.25%) solutions of Liquinox used without heat can usually safely clean even stressed polycarbonate without problems - of course hopefully the polycarbonate is not that dirty because of course a 0.25% solution does not clean as well as the typical 1% solution.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aqueous Cleaning and Environmental Issues

What are environmental issues are involved with aqueous cleaning?

Generally, the environmental issues involved in aqueous cleaning have to do with the ingredients used and their ultimate discharge into the environment. Taking a larger view, it is also important to consider the energy and resources consumed in making and using the cleaner.

There are several important factors concerning discharge of spent cleaning solutions into the environment: biodegradability, aquatic toxicity and eutrophication acceleration. Early detergent formulations contained poorly biodegradable surfactants
that often caused foaming of lake and river surfaces after spent solutions were discharged to drain. All modern detergent formulations use biodegradable surfactants that do no buildup or persist in the environment causing foaming problems.

Aquatic toxicity can come from very high or very low pH or from toxic ingredients. Where extreme pH cleaning is required, it is advisable to neutralize or discharge spent solutions in small enough quantities to avoid problems. The surfactants in aqueous cleaners may be a source of aquatic toxicity. The use of biodegradable surfactants and the discharge of limited quantities of cleaning solutions generally results in safe concentrations of surfactants on water surfaces. Older, more highly toxic surfactants are rarely used in aqueous cleaner formulations.

Eutrophication involves cleaners that contain phosphates. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for algae. When significant amounts of phosphorus are discharged into surface water, vigorous algae blooms may result. The algae die and settle to the bottom filling lakes and ponds with silt and organic matter more rapidly that normal. Although eutrophication is a normal, natural process, the acceleration of this process by phosphates is undesirable. The main source of phosphorous in surface waters is agricultural run-off from farming. There are no national regulations restricting the use of phosphates in cleaners, however, many states and municipalities have enacted legislation that restricts the use of phosphates in household cleaners. There are currently no restrictions on the use of phosphate containing cleaners in industrial cleaning applications.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aqueous Cleaning Environmental Health and Safety Issues

What are the environmental health and safety issues that need to be considered when developing an aqueous cleaning process?

Aqueous cleaners, by definition, use water for cleaning and rinsing. This has both advantages and disadvantages. Water is an inherently environmentally sound and substantially safe chemical to work with. It is a recyclable natural resource. Yet, as populations grow, clean surface water will become increasingly scarce. Water can also be a transport medium for various polluting or hazardous chemicals that may derive from the use of aqueous cleaning in specific instances.

One way to look at the environmental health and safety of a cleaning process is to consider:
  • How hazardous is the cleaning process?
  • How hazardous is the effluent resulting from the cleaning process?
  • How sustainable-in terms of energy and resources-is the process?
All critical cleaning falls within a safety continuum. At one end are the polluting, hazardous processes; at the other, those that are to clean and safe processes; clean, safe, sustainable and produce little waste. Aqueous cleaning may fall anywhere along this continuum.

Of course, some aqueous cleaners do contain hazardous ingredients that may be used to clean hazardous soils, which may produce hazardous and polluting waste. But by the same token, industrial cleaning may involve the use of an aqueous cleaner with no hazardous ingredients used to clean the same hazardous soil, resulting in a clean and relatively safe process.

Improvement in safety can be achieved by eliminating the source of the hazardous soil in the process. Going a step further, waste can be reduced by integrating soil recycling, cleaning solution recycling and/or rinse water recycling into the cleaning process. It is possible to design a so-called "zero-discharge" system with no fluid effluent, limited volatile effluent and reduced solid waste by recycling cleaning and rinsing solutions using filters. In order to move toward a clean, safe and sustainable process, however, one would need to eliminate the hazardous soil and replace it with a non hazardous biodegradable soil. Then, after the water used in the cleaning and rinsing process has been recycled sufficiently, for energy efficiency, the now nonhazardous soil in the effluent would not pose no environment threat. Any water released could safely be incorporated into the natural water cycle (surface water evaporates to form clouds, which later precipitate as rain, and return as surface water).

It is, generally much more difficult to clean safely and sustainably using nonaqueous cleaning methods. Many nonaqueous cleaners are themselves health hazards, water pollutants, or air pollutants. Certainly not all nonaqueous cleaners are hazards and/or pollutants, but most lack a basic natural means, such as the water-cycle, of purifying and/or recycling key ingredients. Of course, this is an oversimplification. Given enough time, almost anything can complete a natural cycle of synthesis and decay. However, here, we are considering processes achievable in the course of a human lifetime.

One might argue that the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle and other elemental cycles are involved in the decomposition and purification of ingredients used in nonaqueous cleaners. In fact, some of these cycles are also involved in the purification of ingredients found in aqueous cleaners but to a lesser degree. All of the cycles, noted above, involve multiple chemical transformations. They are slow processes in which chemicals may remain in one state for many years before degrading to a purer form. For example, during the nitrogen cycle, nitrogen remains in the air typically for years. Likewise, carbon takes the form of geological carbonates for extensive periods of time during the course of the carbon cycle, in some cases for millennia. Oxygen also remains tied up in the form of geological carbonates. These elements simply do not cycle rapidly, to a pure state, the way water does.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cleaning Salicylic Acid

What can be used to manually clean lotions, creames, emulsions containing salicylic acid from manufacturing equipment?

In general salicylic acid is best cleaned by sodium phosphate or alkali citrate salt containing cleaners. Creams and lotions are often best cleaned by high alkaline cleaners. Alconox powder is moderately alkaline sodium phosphate containing cleaner that is somewhat safer for manual use than some high alkaline cleaners. Alconox is a powder and some companies may much prefer a liquid. Alconox would work well here and would be better than Liquinox for this application. If the customer prefers a liquid, I would recommend either Detojet or Solujet. Note that Detojet and Solujet are both hazardous corrosive liquids that require skin and eye protection for handling. Solujet and Detojet must ship on non-passenger aircraft and can only be air shipped in the 5 gallon (19 L) size.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cleaning Agent Environmental Considerations

What are some environmental considerations when selecting a cleaning agent?

Environmental considerations include concern over volatile solvents with ozone-depleting potential and volatile-organic compound content that is regulated by The Clean Air Act Amendments. Any detergent chosen should be biodegradable and readily disposable, and contain no RCRA Hazard Classification or EPA Priority Pollutants.

Surfactants are not generally viewed as a menace to the environment. Nonetheless, their impact on the environment often receives as much attention as their technical properties and economic aspects. One reason may be that the mental image most people have of foaming streams and rivers, formed over three decades ago, has not faded entirely. This foam resulted from non or poorly biodegradable surfactants which are no longer used in modern aqueous cleaner formulations.

Then too, public environmental awareness has increased markedly in recent years. Some might say that, environmentalism has transcended its position as a mere social attitude to become a moral imperative. Many of us want to "do the right thing," environmentally speaking. To this end, regulations are enacted and new products designed and marketed. In the age of environmental marketing and awareness, we form perceptions regarding effects of new products on the environment, often, without complete scientific evidence. More comprehensive consideration of the total cost of environmentally negative practices, can lead to a realization that the most environmental choice can also be the best choice from an economic standpoint. When sustainable, environmental practices and choices of cleaning agents and cleaning techniques are integrated into normal practices without having to be specially labeled as environmental practices, but rather as best practices, they will be most successful.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clean a Microfiltration Membrane System

Can Tergazyme be used to clean a microfiltration membrane system? Can Tergazyme be a supplement to bleach cleaning.

Tergazyme can be an excellent pre-cleaning procedure prior to bleaching. Tergazyme can break down hydrophobic biofilms and other residues that can interfere with bleach performance.