Best Practice Guidelines for Surface Cleaning

Summary: Any business carrying out surface cleaning using certain solvents is legally required to adhere to a 2002 European directive. Compliance includes drawing up a solvent management plan, implementing that plan, regular inspections and annual certification.

Published: 2005


Pages: 51

Filesize: 1,977KB

Format: pdf

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Executive Summary

These guidelines have been developed to help implement a European Directive on reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the air from the use of organic solvents. The Directive has been brought into effect in Ireland through Regulations published in November 2002.

The directive was drawn up because solvent emissions can have harmful effects on human health and the environment. Surface cleaning using solvents is just one of the many types of activities to be affected by the legislation.

In terms of surface cleaning, solvents are organic compounds that are used to remove contaminants from the surfaces of products. This legislation is specifically concerned with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), i.e. those organic compounds that have a tendency to evaporate under ambient conditions (see table below for level of volatility that makes an organic compound a VOC).

Typical volatile organic compounds used as surface cleaning solvents usually depend on the type of cleaning operation, but can include materials like methylene chloride, xylene, Stoddard solvent, and other hydrocarbon mixtures, among others.

If you are involved in surface cleaning using solvents, and:

  • the amount of solvent with any of the risk phrases R40 and halogenated; R45; R46; R49; R60; or R61 (see section 2.3 for risk phrase definitions) contained in cleaners consumed in a year is more than 1,000 kg (1 tonne), or
  • the amount of other solvent contained in cleaners consumed in a year is more than 2,000 kg (2 tonnes)

you are legally obliged to meet the relevant requirements of the solvents Regulations which are outlined in these guidelines.

However, if you have a total consumption capacity of more than 200,000 kgs (200 tonnes) of solvent per year, or more than 150 kg (0.15 tonnes) solvent per hour, you need to hold an IPPC licence in order to operate. If this is the case, and you are not already IPPC licensed, you must notify the EPA immediately. The requirements of these Guidelines are not relevant to you.