Exposure to cutting fluids or metalworking fluids can have serious, long-term consequences and can be linked to various respiratory diseases including hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
The Dangers of Exposure to Cutting Fluid
Water-based metalworking fluids support the growth of biological contaminants, which when inhaled can cause respiratory diseases. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 1.2 million workers in the machine finishing, machine tooling and other metalworking and metal-forming industries are potentially exposed to organic contaminants through the use of cutting fluids.
These people have worked hard their entire lives. They have built our country, including the products that make it strong. At hundreds of job sites across the United States, hundreds of thousands of workers experience exposure to metalworking fluids on a daily basis which puts their long-term health at risk.
Occupational exposure to metalworking fluids occurs by breathing aerosois – or the mist – generated during the machining process or through skin contact when workers touch machine parts, equipment or tools covered with metalworking fluids.
The United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers of American have repeatedly petitioned the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to set comprehensive standards for metalworking fluids. Currently, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that exposure to metalworking fluid aerosols be limited to 0.4 milligrams per cubic meter of air. However, it is just that, a recommendation, it is not enforced.