The hazards when working with aerosol cans
There are three general types of hazards when working with aerosol cans. The first one is the pressurization. As long as the can and the dispensing device remain intact, aerosol cans are safe. However, it can be dangerous if not deadly if there is as a puncture, a faulty valve, excessive temperatures, or corrosion. All this can result in unintended depressurization, which may explode and hurt workers and other people. Yes, in the most severe cases, aerosol cans may explode, burning workers and showering them with steel shrapnel.
The second hazard is the actual product being dispensed by the can. Often, these products are inherently hazardous, think of insecticides. Others may contain hazardous substances, like the concentrated solvents found in some paints or cleaners. In fact, some cans that are partially empty may be legally considered to be hazardous wastes. Finally, if either the propellant or the product it delivers is flammable, the aerosol can create a fire hazard.
What to do when using aerosol cans
The first step is to avoid using aerosol cans if you have another alternative. If the task can be accomplished without the use of aerosol cars, even better. That way you don’t have to worry about the hazards. Other great options are refillable spray bottles, or air-powered equipment may be available.
Aerosol cans should always be stored in dry areas where they will not be exposed to excessive temperatures. As the temperature rises, pressure in the can increase and temperatures about 120 degrees Fahrenheit may lead to explosions. Because car and truck interiors can become very hot in sunlight (even during the winter months), vehicles are not a safe location for even temporary storage.
How to properly dispose of aerosol cans
Leftover materials in partially filled cans may qualify as hazardous waste. If a can has issues with spraying or other issue, the best thing is to return it to the supplier. That will prevent the consumer from having to treat it as hazardous waste.
The good news is; cans that are empty of both propellant and product are NOT considered to be hazardous waste, and may be recyclable. Aerosol cans should never be placed in fires or heated locations because they may explode, and the propellant may be flammable. Cans that are still pressurized may also burst if place in a garbage compactor.
So, whenever possible, buy products that are in a spray bottle. Often times, its not only more environmentally friendly, it’s a better value. The propellant in an aerosol can account for as much as 15 percent of the weight most products sold. What that means you pay for a whole bunch of air and the actual content is only 85%. We are fortunate to have many product choices available that are also good for the environment. Opt for spray bottle products, they are better for you and the environment.