DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts
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  1. #1
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    DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Using brake cleaner and the effects when welding with argon?

    What happened was a friend of mine was doin some Alu welding,(was oil on the stuff) he used brake cleaner to clean it,
    and just before welding sprayed on a little more, waited abit,
    welded about 4 in. and fell over.

    His wife called me, after the amb. was there,I figured he got shocked.
    hospital called and said he had a (name i cant pronounce)
    poisoning.

    Anyway it comes from when you mix a heated chemical
    (thats in brake cleaner) with argon, the chems in brake cleaner turn to gas and mix with the argon,

    IT IS DEADLY

    He died today from it.

    ( Ive done it too with the brake cleaner) and i dont think i am the only 1

    NOT ANYMORE

    I dont wanna go in that kinda way, I think the gas chamber would be better.

    WE dont need to lose people who are in our field of work like that.

    Take care. And remember, you get paid for pretty welds,But are they worth your life?

    Frank

  2. #2
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Very sorry to hear about your friend.

    The chemical it produces is called Phosgene. It was used as a chemical weapon in WW1. Very nasty stuff. The same chemical can be produced with welding and alot of other cleaners. It's the chlorine that does it. For welding I stick with acetone.

  3. #3
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Sorry to hear about your friend also.

    The dangers of brake cleaner as a prep has been covered here several times, but it's always good to bring the subject up again as needed so this won't happen to others. Just a few of the many threads to cover Phosgene and brake cleaner..

    http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=57472

    http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=37201

    http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=32501

    http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=33421
    .



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  4. #4
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    I didn't think brake cleaner had chlorine in it in anymore, but I'll still never use anything other than acetone.
    Sorry for your loss!
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  5. #5
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Sorry for you loss!!!!!!!!

  6. #6
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Frank,

    Es tut mir leid zu hören, dass Ihr Freund tot ist.

    The deadly chemical was probably "phosgene".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosgene

    The intense UV radiation from arc welding can cause a chemical reaction with some chlorinated chemicals (such as some spray brake cleaners), most likely or commonly containing 1-1-1-trichloroethane

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1,1,1-Trichloroethane

    or possibly dichloromethane

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichloromethane

    The argon gas really has nothing to do with phosgene formation via UV radiation on the chlorinated solvent, and neither does heat (temperatures hotter than ~200C actually cause phosgene to break down into carbon monoxide and chlorine, neither of which are good for the body and which are both toxic but not to the degree that phosgene is).

    The chlorinated brake-cleaner sprays around here are being phased out and now they mostly seem to be other solvent or solvent blends (most common that I now see and use is pretty much acetone in a spray can, works OK but not quite as well as the tri-chlor solvent).

    You still have to be careful with ANY cleaning solvent, as most are still flammable and/or dangerous.

    Ventilation and being aware of the dangers/risks from the solvent(s) you are using is impostant. Read the label!!!!

    If using solvents and welding, make sure that ALL of the solvent has evaporated before you weld.

    Be aware of solvent vapors, and also of solvent-soaked rags (IIRC, 'our' Zap had an issue with an acetone-soaked rag. At least once. )

    Again, sorry to hear about your friend.

    Be safe and be careful.
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  7. #7
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Quote Originally Posted by MoonRise View Post

    Ventilation and being aware of the dangers/risks from the solvent(s) you are using is impostant. Read the label!!!!
    Forget the label get the MSDS. If ...chlor... is anywhere on there do not use it. If you can't find the MSDS, DO NOT USE IT!

  8. #8
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Sorry, man that really sucks.. Prayers for everyone involved..God Bless

  9. #9
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    I'm sorry to hear this... My condolances...

    I use thinner when mig-welding steel and let it evaporate well, is this safe? Just took this thread as a wake up call...

  10. #10
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Quote Originally Posted by CulinaireZaken View Post
    I'm sorry to hear this... My condolances...

    I use thinner when mig-welding steel and let it evaporate well, is this safe? Just took this thread as a wake up call...
    Find the MSDS for the specific brand of chemical you are using. If you see phosgene, cholrine, chlorinated or any other form of chlor, don't use it. Failure to do so is risking your health/life.

  11. #11
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    I am a skeptic.... 4 inches of weld? Sick yes. lethal I doubt. WW1 vets took a lot more and survived.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotechman View Post
    I am a skeptic.... 4 inches of weld? Sick yes. lethal I doubt. WW1 vets took a lot more and survived.
    Why don't you test it out and let us know if u die or not. 6 parts per million of phosgene gas can be fatal.
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  13. #13
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    WOW, very sad story, and very sorry for your friend.
    I hate being bi-polar it's awsome




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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffy View Post
    Find the MSDS for the specific brand of chemical you are using. If you see phosgene, cholrine, chlorinated or any other form of chlor, don't use it. Failure to do so is risking your health/life.
    Thanx.

  15. #15
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    I got a shot of the chlorinated stuff one day, Phosgene isnt the only problem, chlorine gas can also form. It was a scary experience, one Im not willing to repeat. Felt like crap for several days, all I could smell was chlorine, dark urine, Not good at all.

  16. #16
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Quote Originally Posted by lotechman View Post
    I am a skeptic.... 4 inches of weld? Sick yes. lethal I doubt. WW1 vets took a lot more and survived.
    Umm.. just to be clear, our breathing zone monitors in the wafer fab would alarm at 25 parts per billion of Arsine or Phosphine gas.

    Yes, it takes very little to kill you. WF6, aka Tungsten Hexafluoride is another real nasty gas.

    Look on an MSDS for the IDLH value of Phosgene. That stands for Immediate Danger to Life and Health, or as my buddy used to say, it's the "I Don't Like it Here" threshold.

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  17. #17
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    A couple guys here got it right. I've been 100% DEAF for 21 years due to about 5 minutes of TIG welding around some Chlorinated solvent. 1-1-1 Trichlorethane. The UV in welding arc converts that into Phosgene, a very strong vervous system 'irritant', quite deadly. Military in WW1 called it Mustard gas, ever heard of that?
    Dougspair

  18. #18
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Sorry to hear about your friend.

    This is why there are no chlorinated solvents anywhere in the shop I wok for, or at my house. If the label doesn't say "Non Chlorinated" on it don't take the chance. One giveaway that a solvent has chlorine in it is the "Non Flamable" label.
    It's all non chlorinated solvents and final clean with acetone for me.

    What creates Tungsten Hexafluoride?

  19. #19
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    I'm sorry for your loss. But thank you for telling the story, I read the older story that was posted on here some time ago about the other guy that got poisoned from it. And I have told so many guys the story that iv'e welded with about the danger of the brake cleaner and they didn't even know and some of them have actually used brake cleaner before welding something.
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  20. #20
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex22 View Post
    What creates Tungsten Hexafluoride?
    It's an industrial gas mixture used in making semiconductor devices.
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  21. #21
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Quote Originally Posted by dougspair View Post
    A couple guys here got it right. I've been 100% DEAF for 21 years due to about 5 minutes of TIG welding around some Chlorinated solvent. 1-1-1 Trichlorethane. The UV in welding arc converts that into Phosgene, a very strong vervous system 'irritant', quite deadly. Military in WW1 called it Mustard gas, ever heard of that?
    Just an FYI, "mustard gas" and "phosgene" are NOT the same thing.

    Both are dangerous, both are toxic, both were used in WW1.

    But they are not the same chemical.

    Phosgene = COCl2 (or CCl2O) Damages the internal protein structure of the lungs primarily, which results in impaired or no oxygen trasfer and then suffocation. In the "choking agent" group of chemical weapons.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosgene

    The 'typical' odor detection threshold of phosgene is 0.4 ppm, which is ~4x greater than the 'safe' Threshold Limit Value. If you can smell the phosgene (described as a grassy or hay-like smell), then you greatly exceeded the 'safe' exposure limit. ie: You're probably toast.

    Mustard gas = C4H8Cl2S Causes delayed (on the order of 24 hr after exposure) nasty, painful chemical burns and blisters, and long-term mutagenic and carcinogenic action. In the "blister-agent" group of chemical weapons. Smell described as mustard or garlic-like, from the sulfur in the molecule.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustard_gas

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemica...on_designation
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  22. #22
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    All chlorinated solvents will break down into dangerous chemicals when heated not just brake clean. In fact very few brake clean products are chlorinated. But, the easiest way to tell is if it says flammable on the can it's safe to use. Chlorinated solvents will not burn. Electric motor cleaners and solvents meant to work on energized equipment will be the chlorinated type. Key words to look for on the label are perchloroethylene, trichlorethylene, and tetrachlorethylene. Most refrigerants will also break down into similar chemicals when heated as will fire fighting agents intended to interrupt chemical chain reaction such as Halon.

    And yeah, .4 ppm is 4x greater the exposure limit but that's the safe limit for continuous exposure. When chlorinated solvents break down they give off hydrochloric acid which burns your lungs. It's very uncomfortable to be around (I have been exposed). But, you immediately want to move away because of the discomfort so your exposure is not continuous. The biggest trouble with chlorinated solvents is that they persist a lot longer than other types. You can clean a part with brake clean and weld on it 5 minutes later and there will still be some residue. It also lingers in low lying areas so if you are cleaning switchgear in an enclosed space make sure it is well ventilated before performing hot work even though it is no flammable.
    Last edited by 76GMC1500; 11-14-2012 at 01:40 AM.

  23. #23
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Hi yall,
    Been along time since I was in here,Work work work........
    My friends wife said Thanks to all the People in here for there kind words.

    Funny thing over here is they dont put on the cans whats inside.
    German Enginiering....
    Acetone from now on yall

    Thanks again
    Frank

  24. #24
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Yep, all the ruckus about chlorinated compounds breaking down to yield Phosgene gas as a by product are true.
    Some other possibly obscure (in the modern day) stuff that we had to deal with back in my youth were Carbon Tetrachloride...usually just called "carbon tet" slangily.
    This stuff was widely used as a dry cleaning solvent and de-greaser. It was also famously (and unbelievably) used as a FIRE EXTINGUISHER fluid marketed under the name of "Pyrene".
    Another class of products we had to be careful of was the Freons (such as R12 and R22 for example).
    I have heard tales of people discharging those refrigerants from air conditioner systems in a close space while smoking a cigarette and keeling over on the spot.
    Such is the potency of Phosgene.
    Thanks to all for helping to raise the awareness of the dangers of using these compounds.

  25. #25
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    Re: DANGER using BrakeCleaner to clean your Parts

    Something else you guys should know.
    Burning refrigerants aka freon makes phosegene gas too. It will kill you.
    So becareful when working around any kind of refrigeration equipment.

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