Use of 1,2 dichloroethane (EDC) in strictly controlled conditions
CASE 1: Dow uses EDC as a sulphonation agent of styrene-divinylbenzene copolymer beads in the production of resins. EDC does not take part in the reaction, but it is only facilitating the chemical reaction, it can be recovered to be recycled and re-used in the process. Fombio site is working, for several years, to maximize EDC recovery and to minimize the impact of EDC on personal safety and environment by taking improvement actions in the whole production cycle, form the storage to waste generation and handling. The result has been technically achieved through:
- implementation of EDC cryogenic condensation coupled with continuous monitoring of emissions;
- by closing the cycle as much as technically feasible eliminating the presence of EDC in the waste water and in the waste streams;
- by implementing a strictly controlled condition discipline in maintenance activities and
- confirming the effectiveness of all these good practices though a structured industrial hygiene yearly monitoring protocol.
EDC is listed in REACH Annex XIV due to its carcinogenic properties; a chemical safety report has been submitted to ECHA for authorization, documenting the exposure assessment as result of the SCC handling conditions for the substance. The company has received from ECHA a 12 years authorization period.
More solutions from Dow Group Italy: introduction and problem setting
Dow Group in Italy manufactures a wide range of chemical products. Some productions require the use of carcinogenic substances. The high and constant attention of the company towards the health of their workers and the environment has been the trigger to improve processes and operating procedures where these substances are involved.
The three following cases are examples of best practices to improve the processes (first case) or the handling of carcinogenic raw materials (second and third cases) in order to reduce the workers’ potential exposure:
- CASE 1: Use of 1,2 dichloroethane (EDC) in strictly controlled conditions (current case)
- CASE 2: Use of aqueous solution instead of solid pure substance
- CASE 3: Dry Disconnect Couplers used for unloading hazardous material from road bulks and minibulks / IBC containers
The full implementation of these best practices has had an important impact on the sites where they have been applied. All of them, despite the fact that the problems were different and the solutions, obviously, different, had a common result: the effective reduction of the workers exposure to carcinogenic substances. The first case is an example of a complex good practice that also improves the production process and the use of raw materials. The second good practice allowed eliminating the handling of a solid carcinogenic substance ad inserts work in a closed cycle. The third case is an interesting good practice to reduce the exposure and that can be easily adopted in handling hazardous materials in general.