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Glossary: Mineral Oils

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Risks of metal workers using mineral oils
Risks of metal workers using mineral oils
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Mineral Oils & Metal Working


Mineral oils are used in a wide variety of occupations.  Those who are most exposed include metal workers and printers where mineral oils are used to lubricate or cool machinery.

Mineral oils, or known as ‘metalworking fluids’ when used in metalworking also help carry away any metal debris (swarf) and help prolong the life of a metal cutting tool.

Machinists are most at risk from inhaling mineral oil from mists or vapours that are applied during metalworking, which can cause lung complications and respiratory diseases such as:

Contact with the skin, particularly the hands, can cause skin irritation and disorders such as dermatitis. This can be from direct contact and working with the mineral oil or from the metals debris that they carry away. Metals including nickel, chromium and cobalt can irritate and burn the skin.

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