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Millions of machine operators around the world go to work each day, knowing they’re putting themselves at risk of developing long-term health issues. For decades, manufacturers have used a method in their machining processes called flood cooling or misting. This cooling method requires a mixture of chemically based coolants and water known as metalworking fluids (MWFs). These MWFs are applied to the tool and workpiece during the machining process. When MWFs are used, there’s a mist or fog created which has the potential to cause the machine operators a multitude of adverse health effects.

Later in this article, we’ll reveal an alternative method of lubrication which can replace the process of toxic flood cooling. This eco-friendly MagLube alternative, called minimum quantity lubrication is quickly gaining popularity because it’s more efficient than flood cooling and it virtually eliminates all the potential health concerns of MWFs discussed below.

Known adverse health effects caused by MWFs

The most common health problems experienced are sometimes visibly noticeable on workers hands and skin. These skin irritations are typically due to direct contact with these hazardous chemicals found in the MWFs. However, more serious health issues occur when the mist created by the flood cooling process is inhaled by the worker. Prolonged exposure and inhalation have been known to cause serious, even life threatening health issues.

Common Health Concerns Caused By Metalworking Fluids

Over exposure to MWF mist can potentially cause brain tumors and harm other internal organs

It has been documented by the medical community that over exposure to MWFs can cause nerve damage

When inhaled, small amounts of MWF particles can penetrate parts of the lungs causing asthma, chronic bronchitis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis

When entering the nose, mouth or lungs, MWF particles can enter the digestive tract. Which has been linked to colon, bladder, pancreatic and liver cancers

Oils found in MWFs, whether water-based, synthetic, semi-synthetic can cause contact dermatitis and prolonged exposure may cause allergic contact eczema

The mist of MWFs can contain microorganisms, bacteria and fungi. When breathed in will increase the likelihood of contracting illness or disease

OSHA sets guidelines regarding PELs to protect workers

Extensive research has been done by the governing bodies that are tasked with setting legal regulations and rules related to almost all manufacturing processes, procedures and facilities. Regarding the usage of MWFs and flood coolants, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration – OSHA is the Federal organization that has set certain regulations and guidelines known as the strict Permissible Exposure Limits or PEL to protect workers against these adverse health effects. PELs have been determined as the acceptable and “safe” levels of the mist produced during these processes.

However, another organization, the National Institute for Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH), set even stricter guidelines regarding PELs.

Why OSHA regulations don’t protect workers 100%

Virtually every facility that uses MWFs and flood cooling in their manufacturing process is required to adhere to these strict guidelines, which is very good news for their workers. However, adherence to these rules requires each facility to invest substantial resources in expensive equipment known as mist collection devices. While the best mist collection devise can substantially improve working condition by removing most of the chemically saturated mist, there are none that can remove 100% of the mist from the air in the working environment. metalworking-fluid-causes-skin-irritationSo, no matter how diligent the manufacturer may be… the fact is, there are always health risks to the workers when MWF processes are being used!

Then, there’s also the issue of direct contact to hands and skin of the workers on a daily basis. This cannot be solved by the most advanced mist collection device because this occurs before this mist has even been produced during production setup and after production when the extensive cleanup is required. It doesn’t end by just cleaning the tools, as there are wet cutting chips that have to be handled, cleaned and properly disposed.

Virtually every facility that uses MWFs and flood cooling in their manufacturing process is required to adhere to these strict guidelines, which is very good news for their workers. However, adherence to these rules requires each facility to invest substantial resources in expensive equipment known as mist collection devices. While the best mist collection devise can substantially improve working condition by removing most of the chemically saturated mist, there are none that can remove 100% of the mist from the air in the working environment. So, no matter how diligent the manufacturer may be… the fact is, there are always health risks to the workers when MWF processes are being used!

Then, there’s also the issue of direct contact to hands and skin of the workers on a daily basis. This cannot be solved by the most advanced mist collection device because this occurs before this mist has even been produced during production setup and after production when the extensive cleanup is required. metalworking-fluid-causes-skin-irritationIt doesn’t end by just cleaning the tools, as there are wet cutting chips that have to be handled, cleaned and properly disposed.

Can workers be safe from MWF health effects?

So, what if there was a better way? What if there was a system of lubrication for every manufacturer using CNC routers, CNC and manual milling machines, bandsaws, circular saws, roll formers, stamping and punch presses that would allow them to completely eliminate hazardous MWFs and flood coolants?Then, there’s also the issue of direct contact to hands and skin of the workers on a daily basis. 

By completely removing the flood coolant process, you’d also be removing virtually all the potential health risks to workers being exposed to these toxic coolants every day. You’d also be eliminating the need for expensive mist collection devices. Then, as an added bonus, you’d also be eliminating the need for the expensive and time consuming post production cleanup of machines and tools and of the chemically soaked cutting chips, which over time will adversely affect your bottom line financially.

metalworking fluids vs maglube mql systems

The toxic MWF solution – MQL – micro lubricants

Introducing MagLube micro-lubrication systems. Also known as MQL or minimum quantity lubrication. MQL is the solution to the expensive and hazardous process of flood cooling with MWFs!

As a manufacturing engineer, operations manager or process engineer at a company currently using MWFs and the flood cooling process, you may be thinking;

“Yeah, this all sounds great. Having the ability to eliminate this hazardous process would be fantastic, but the bottom line is efficiency and quality control of the end product. How do MagLube’s MQL systems perform? Do they produce quality cuts? Does the end product turn out as good when compared to what we’re getting using our current MWF process?”

There are specific reasons MagLube MQL systems and lubricants are superior to traditional flood coolants. With flood coolants, the tools and workpiece are flooded with the MWFs to “quench” the heat during the process. As you may be aware, this quenching is not actually reducing the friction produced during the process. It’s simply flooding the tool and the workpiece during the cut, or whatever process is being done, causing damage to the tool and sometimes the workpiece itself. Is it effective? Yes, but with several negative impacts, such as the adverse health effects already discussed and damage to tools and machines.

With MagLube micro-lubrication, only a microscopic amount of organic, biodegradable lubricants is applied at specific intervals and targeted in the exact location the friction is being produced during the cut. Because of the organic properties of our lubricants, they form a thin coating on the tool and workpiece, reducing the friction by up to 300 times that of traditional flood coolants. This elimination of the friction produces a better end product with higher quality cuts.

Because of the microscopic amounts of lubricant being used, there is virtually no mist produced during the process… eliminating the need for expensive mist collection devices.

As mentioned before, as an added bonus, the cutting chips produced with MQL are now dry, substantially reducing post production cleanup, time and expense. Your cutting chips will now become an asset that you can recycle and sell.

MagLube MQL systems are a more efficient, more cost effective and higher quality solution to all industrial lubrication methods being used in the marketplace today. But probably one of the most important reasons to transition away from using toxic MWFs is: it allows your workers to do their job in a safer, much less hazardous working environment. This is one of the biggest reasons we’re proud to be the 21st century solution to hundreds of manufacturers. Our customers have transformed their manufacturing process while improving their valuable machinists daily working environments.

For more information about our MQL packages, contact us today for a Free initial consultation. We provide onsite custom solutions for any and all machining lubrication needs your company may have. Reach out today at: (800) 441-2023

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