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Polymer Additives

Health and safety with additives

SpecialChem / Apr 23, 2001

There is no avoiding it: additives can be hazardous and, at the very least, they are often difficult to handle. Even something as innocuous as carbon black, if it gets out of the package, can cause havoc in a factory by spreading and contaminating. Other additives can create dust, irritating respiration and even causing an explosion. The aim of efficient compounding is to 'lock' the additives securely into the compound, in order to harness their properties. By doing this, it can also lock the additives in safely. Fortunately, for compounders and processors of thermoplastics, the hazard from additives is now safely contained upstream, where the additives are manufactured. In moulding and fabricating 'wet' polymer systems, such as polyesters and polyurethanes, however, it is essential to take precautions. A key trend of recent years has been to supply additives processed into 'safe' forms, in pellets, capsules, liquids and masterbatch concentrates and so, for the compounder and processor, the hazards have largely been taken out - but it is still important that they should be aware of them.

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