According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries chemicals that are usually used in car wash products pose serious health risks for workers. Based on the research conducted by the agency CDC (the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) published a report on Friday.
Car wash products often contain hydrofluoric acid which is used to break down toad grime and brighten aluminum. CDC looked at the compensation injury reports of the workers from 2001 to 2013. Because of the hydrofluoric acid used in car wash products workers usually suffer burns to their hands and moreover to their eyes and head. This happens due to the fact that they did not wear gloves or their gloves had holes in them.
The researchers found that 48 workers from Washington state suffered because of burns from hydrofluoric-acid-based car wash products. Seven workers needed hospitalization, two required surgery and skin grafts and three workers suffered thirds-degree burns. A worker who was 38 years old even died after ingesting some car wash products. However it is not clear whether the incident was intentional or not.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries reported that besides the fact that hydrofluoric acid is used in car wash products it can also be found in products used for brightening boats and wheels that are meant for home use. They can be dangerous even in low concentrations so people are recommended to use alternatives.
Carolyn Whitaker, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained:
Hydrofluoric acid is insidiously toxic at the low concentrations used in vehicle washing. Initially, when it touches the skin there may be little or no pain. That means workers are often unaware of the burn until later and typically delay getting treatment.”
Whitaker further explained that this is what happened with one worker who while transferring a cleaning solution between containers splashed his leg with it and continued to walk for about one hour and a half with his pants and shoe soaked in solution.
He did not feel the burning sensation, but when he reached the hospital he found out that he had three degree burns. Emergency medical technicians had to use a skin graft for his injuries. Because of the chronic numbness in his foot the man eventually received partial disability payments.
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