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Powerful cleaning solvents are needed to remove contaminants during cable splicing and termination--contaminants that could otherwise cause current leakage or arcing. The uncontrolled use of bulk and aerosol solvents for this cleaning is under increasing scrutiny, both from an industrial safety and environmental standpoint.
SpliceMaster® Cleaners in the unique PEL-PAC System provide a green way to control solvent exposure for increased worker safety.
The PEL-PAC System consists of durable, cleaner-soaked towels in a resealable package. The towels hold a measured amount of the SpliceMaster® Cleaner. By inputing cleaner dissipation rate and field specifics into a computerized model, the worker's exposure to solvent vapors can be determined. This data can be used to control field exposure.
SpliceMaster® Cable Cleaner
Questions and Answers on SpliceMaster® Cleaners and the PEL-PAC System
Q: How are our workers exposed to cleaner solvent vapors?
A: Because electrical cleaning solvents leave no residue and evaporate quickly, solvent vapor levels in the air can rapidly reach significant concentrations. The worker is exposed to airborne solvent vapors, which is of particular concern in closed environments such as vaults.
Q: How is the exposure to solvent vapors determined?
A: The amount of solvent in a given volume of air is measured as a concentration. While many concentration dimensions are possible (such as mg/m³), the most common in industrial hygiene is parts per million (ppm) or parts per hundred million (pphm) of air.
Q: How do we know if a solvent vapor concentration is hazardous?
A: A number of organizations establish "acceptable" levels of solvent vapor exposure. The best known such groups in the USA are NIOSH, OSHA, and ACGIH. The levels they have established are called TLVs (Threshhold Limit Values) or PELs (Permissible Exposure Limits). TLVs and PELs are usually given in "ppm's." PEL-PAC is, in fact, an acronym for Permissible Exposure Limit Package.
Q: Are the TLVs for all cleaning solvents the same?
A: No, TLVs vary significantly by the cleaning solvent. Some types of vapors are considered more toxic than others. For the common industrially used solvents, the TLVs vary from 50 ppm to 1000 ppm.
Q: Where can cleaner TLV information be found?
A: The Material Safety Data Sheet put out by the manufacturer of the cleaner should have TLV information. Better products customized for electrical cleaning, like SpliceMaster® Cleaners, are specially formulated solvent combinations. Their TLV is based on their components.
Q: What if a cleaning solvent doesn't have a TLV or PEL?
A: This probably means that not enough toxicological data is available for industrial hygienists to establish such a level. It does not mean that unlimited exposure to the solvent is considered safe. Without specific data, TLVs from other chemically similar solvents are sometimes used. Be wary of any volatile solvent cleaner that claims not to have a TLV and to be "non-hazardous." Airborne cleaner vapors have a limit, and you should be informed of it.
Q: Does the time of exposure to the vapors make any difference?
A: Yes, the most common TLVs cited are TLV-TWAs (Threshhold Limit Value-Time Weighted Average), which is an exposure level under which most people can work (40 hours per week) without adverse effects. In other words, this assumes constant exposure during a normal work week. For the occasional exposure during splicing, terminating, insulator cleaning, etc., such TLV-TWAs would seem conservative. However, a conservative approach is appropriate in this area. For some solvents, the hygiene groups also publish "ceiling level" or "peak" TLVs. These are levels above which even short-term exposure should not occur.
Q: If our workers are only exposed to cleaner vapor levels below the TLV-TWAs, are they "safe"?
A: The TLV-TWAs are intended as guidelines and not absolute levels. The TLVs are reviewed regularly and can be changed. Certainly, keeping worker solvent exposure below TLV-TWA levels is a good start on a safe, cleaner-use program. Other cleaner parameters, including carcinogenicity and oral toxicity, should also be considered in selecting a cleaning solvent.
Q: Will the field workers be able to tell if they are being exposed to cleaner vapors above the TLV?
A: Probably not. Some solvents do have strong odors and irritate the eyes and throat before they reach the TLV level. Many do not, however, and workers can be exposed to levels above the TLV and not be aware of it. Realistically, it is these cleaning solvents that the field worker prefers--they don't "smell bad." Relying on odor and/or irritation to determine toxicity is no substitute for sound engineering. This is why the responsibility for safe use of cleaners must belong to the corporate hygienists as well as operations and standards engineers. The field people simply can't tell.
Q: How does the PEL-PAC System limit worker exposure to cleaner vapors?
A: The PEL-PAC System is quite simple. The PEL-PAC cleaning towel has a measured amount of SpliceMaster® Cleaner on it. Depending on the number of towels used and the way they're used, the amount of solvent (expected and maximum) that is released into the air can be determined. By knowing the TLVs for the SpliceMaster® Cleaners, safe exposure levels can be maintained.
Q: Is anything else involved in determining exposure than just amount of cleaner available for release?
A: Yes, a great number of factors, including cleaner evaporation rate, field temperature, the area of confinement, and air movement or turnover (mechanical or otherwise). The evaporation properties for the SpliceMaster® Cleaners have been determined, and are combined with relevant field parameters in a computerized model to provide specific exposure data.
Q: How can I get this done for our specific cleaning and field situation?
A: As a customer service, American Polywater will do the calculations and provide the results to users of our PEL-PAC® System. However, field-specific input from you is extremely important, including:
Q: But won't this vary in my operation depending on the type of job, location, etc.?
A: Yes, you may want to have a number of calculations run to cover your field variables. American Polywater will perform the multiple calculations for you; and based on the results, you can generalize into field standards for a safe operation. However, as a matter of policy, American Polywater will not perform calculations if you have not received SpliceMaster® Cleaner PEL-PAC samples and used them to determine specific parameters for your cleaning situation.
Q: What if the calculations show that my workers will receive exposure levels above the TLV of the SpliceMaster® Cleaner type I've chosen?
A: Better you know that than not. Then you can consider changes to reduce exposure levels. Since the SpliceMaster® Cleaners have relatively high TLVs, you may well be operating today above the TLVs of the other cleaners you're currently using. The value of the PEL-PAC System calculations is to show you how to bring exposures to an acceptable level.
Q: What about combustion hazard for non-chlorinated cleaning solvents?
A: The PEL-PAC System and calculations can also be applied to combustion analysis. The LELs (Lower Explosive Limits) of the combustible solvents are several orders of magnitude greater than their TLV levels. In other words, if you are at or below the TLV, solvent vapors are too "lean" to burn or have an explosion hazard.
Q: Will our field people like the PEL-PAC System?
A: Our field experience to date has been very positive. The PEL-PAC package is neat and convenient. This is appreciated by the field person. It's an easy way to do the job.
Q: How do I get samples so I can evaluate the PEL-PAC System in my operation?
A: Call customer service at 1-800-328-9384 toll free. American Polywater will be pleased to provide samples and additional information to bonafide utility customers. Transportation costs may apply to international shipments.
Important Notice: The statements and information here are made in good faith based on tests and observations we believe to be reliable. However, the completeness and accuracy of the information is not guaranteed. Before using, the end-user should conduct whatever evaluations are necessary to determine that the product is suitable for the intended use. The user assumes all risks and liability in connection with such use. The statements contained herein are made in lieu of all warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, which warranties are hereby expressly disclaimed. American Polywater's only obligation shall be to replace such quantity of the product proven to be defective. Except for the replacement remedy, American Polywater shall not be liable for any loss, injury or damage, direct or indirect, arising from the use or the failure to properly use these products, regardless of the legal theory asserted. The foregoing may not be altered except by a written agreement by the officers of American Polywater Corporation.
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