Dichloromethane: Do you know the risks?

When you think of high-risk occupations, you probably think about people working on oil rigs, in war zones or in the emergency services.  As a flooring contractor, you probably don’t consider your job to be risky at all – but you could be wrong.

Last year alone, 12,000 people died from lung disease estimated to be linked to past exposure to hazardous chemicals at work.  Occupational lung diseases often take a long time to develop following exposure to the agent that caused them, which means these deaths reflect the effect of past working conditions.

Of course, in 2022 we know more than ever about the risks of chemical exposure and how to prevent these illnesses in the future.  As a contractor, you’re already doing everything you can to protect yourself and your team from harm by using the best PPE and ventilation to safeguard respiratory health – but what if you could remove the risk altogether?

Gekko is known for the quality, speed and convenience of its adhesives.  But as our brand has matured, we’ve become more and more aware of our responsibility to the users of our products – and increasingly determined to build our reputation for safety, too.

A major focus for us in 2022 is dichloromethane – or specifically, its removal from as many of our adhesive products as possible.  

So what is dichloromethane – and why is it used?

Dichloromethane is a clear, colourless, volatile liquid used as an aerosol solvent or degreaser in many industrial applications.  The benefit of using dichloromethane in adhesives is that it delivers a fast setting product, even at cold temperatures.

Why is dichloromethane harmful?

Dichloromethane can be absorbed into the body via inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. Exposure can cause symptoms including shortness of breath, coughing, headache, light-headedness, blurred vision, confusion, agitation and skin burns or rashes. In severe cases kidney damage, fitting, heart problems and coma can occur.

In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified dichloromethane as being suspected of causing cancer in humans.

If it’s so dangerous, why isn’t it banned?

Using a product that contains dichloromethane doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be exposed to harmful effects.  Using the proper breathing equipment and PPE, and working in a well-ventilated space can protect you from exposure.

Dichloromethane is heavier than air, which means the vapours tend to sit at floor level until they dissipate.  The risks come into play when we start to look at different flooring applications. For example, when you’re fitting sheet vinyl, you don’t spend hours on all fours at floor level – but the same can’t be said for fitting carpet tiles, where the risks of accidental exposure are much higher.  Selecting a DCM-free adhesive allows you to eliminate those risks without compromising on performance.

What’s Gekko doing to eliminate DCM?

Eliminating DCM completely isn’t something that can happen overnight – but we’re determined that it CAN happen.  In the meantime, we’re focused on reducing the biggest risks.

It’s harder (but not impossible) to remove DCM from contact adhesives, because it gives them those ultra-strong bonds and speedy flash-off times we all want.  But for surface tackifiers and carpet adhesives, DCM isn’t needed at all – in fact, we’ve found our DCM-free formulations perform even better than their chlorinated predecessors.  There’s simply no reason to use a tackifier containing DCM – especially with so many alternatives on the market, including these Gekko products:

  • G22 The Ultimate Carpet Spray
  • G25 Premium Carpet Spray
  • G47 General Purpose Tackifier
  • G56 Contact Adhesive
  • G57 High Performance Surface Tackifier

 

In 2022 we’re also adding an eighth product to the range – our brand new G22 non-chlorinated carpet adhesive!  And from now on, when new customers order a sample box from Gekko, we’ll ONLY be sending out non-DCM adhesives.

We’ve got big ambitions to become the first adhesive brand to eliminate DCM completely, which has the potential to be a game changer for our industry, and more importantly, for the future health of flooring professionals.  We look forward to sharing more insights with you as the year goes on.

For now though, get your hands on your free samples by completing the web form and get ready to Lay Without Limits on performance or health!

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