Could Using Industrial Hand Soap at Work Hurt Me?

Photo of an industrial worker on a construction site laying sealant for waterproofing cement

Could the industrial hand soap you use at work be hurting you? Recently, Occupational Health & Safety magazine featured a report on industrial hand cleansers and whether they are doing more harm to workers than good.

How Can Using Industrial Hand Soap Hurt Me?

Per the Occupational Health & Safety magazine report, not all industrial hand soap is dangerous. The hand soaps that are mentioned in the article as not being safe all have one ingredient in common: petroleum distillates. This industrial hand cleanser ingredient is a hydrocarbon solvent that is produced from crude oil. Petroleum distillates include kerosene, mineral spirits, naphtha, white spirits and Stoddard solvents. These types of solvents are made at the same oil refineries that produce heating oil, chemical feedstocks and auto fuel.

When added to industrial hand soap, petroleum distillates can help with the removal of waxes, tar, heavy oil and grease. However, exposing your hands to petroleum distillates has negative side effects, according to the Occupational Health & Safety report. Short term exposure to petroleum distillates can lead to skin irritation. Long term exposure to the substance can result in dermatitis, which involves the skin drying and cracking.

In addition, petroleum distillates can introduce harmful levels of toxins such as carcinogens into the body. Carcinogens can cause those exposed to them to develop cancer. The European Union has banned the use of petroleum distillates in cosmetics and other personal care products, because of the risk of exposure to carcinogens.

Our New Jersey personal injury law firm has offices in Red Bank, Newark, New Brunswick and Point Pleasant. For more than 20 years, we have been successfully helping victims of occupational diseases and work injuries in these communities and statewide secure financial help and hold those at fault for their pain and suffering accountable.

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