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Choosing the Right Sorbents

Sorbent Questioner
The following questions were developed to help you determine your spill control needs and to answer your questions regarding a spill control plan.
Use your answers to help you develop your spill control plan.

In developing a spill control plan, you should have certain tools readily available, either to use in case of an emergency, or to control daily leaks and spills around your plant. Be prepared. Choose the right spill control products, personal protective equipment and cleanup equipment to handle and manage the type, size and location of a potential spill, before it occurs.

Does your plant have a need for spill control products in any of the following areas:

Areas in which non-aggressive liquids (oils, coolants, solvents, water, etc.) are used? Yes No

Areas in which petroleum-based liquids (gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, etc.) are used? Yes No

Areas in which aggressive liquids (such as acids and bases) are used? Yes No

Are these spill control products needed to:

Control the spread of leaks, spills, drips and sprays? Yes No

Control leaks, drips and spray around machines? Yes No

Protect walkways and personnel in high-traffic areas? Yes No

Quickly absorb standing spills? Yes No

Absorb liquids in high-traffic areas? Yes No

Absorb liquids below machines, conveyors, valves, etc.? Yes No

Spill maintenance products are used for everyday industrial situations involving cleanups or leaks. Typical maintenance leaks and spills involve oils, greases, lubricants, petroleum-based solvents, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, water, water-based cleaning solutions, antifreeze or other non-aggressive fluids.

Examples of spill maintenance products include
sorbent booms, pads, pillows, rolls, socks and loose sorbents.

Spill control products are items needed for larger spills and for spills involving aggressive liquids. Examples of spill control products include berms, booms, dikes, loose sorbents and neutralizers.

Sorbents can absorb, and/or contain virtually any liquid found in today's work environment.

There are three categories of sorbents:
universal, petroleum and maintenance.

Universal sorbents are designed to absorb any liquid. They will absorb aggressive liquids, such as acids and bases, as well as non-aggressive liquids and solvents, such as cleaners, water-based fluids, gasoline and alcohols. Must universal sorbents are made from either surfactant-treated polypropylene or expanded silicates. view available products

Petroleum sorbents are designed for absorption of oil and or petroleum-based liquids. These sorbents will not absorb water or water-based liquids. Petroleum sorbents are made of polypropylene or treated cellulose. Maintenance sorbents absorb non-aggressive liquids commonly found in manufacturing/ view available products

Maintenance sorbents. These sorbents are typically made of recycled materials, such as cotton, wool, cellulose or corn cobs. They can also be made of polypropylene, or a combination of the materials listed above. view available products

• Sorbent pads or rolls may be used to catch leaks, drips and spray as they occur. They are also ideal for use in high-traffic aisles and next to machines. Pads may also be used below machines, conveyors and valves. view available products

• Sorbent booms or socks may be used around machines to keep the areas clean, safe and dry from leaks, drips and spray.

• Sorbent pillows may be used for absorbing large amounts of spilled liquids. Universal sorbent pillows may be used for spilled aggressive liquids. They may be used wherever corrosives, oxidizers, flammables or other hazardous liquids are stored. view available products

• Sorbent pillows with drip pans mayview available products be used for nuisance leaks and drips from spigots and pipes.

• Loose sorbents are formulated to maximize absorption and minimize dust. They may be used to absorb liquids in heavy traffic areas. view available products

Commonly Asked Questions

Q. What type of absorbent is needed for cleaning up hydrofluoric acid?

A. When cleaning up hydrofluoric acid, use a sorbent made of polypropylene. Do not use an expanded silicate absorbent, as the expanded silicate material will react with hydrofluoric acid.

Q. Are there specific training requirements for personnel who respond to chemical spills?

A. Yes. These requirements may be found in 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response.

Q. Are there specific regulations governing the disposal of sorbents saturated with hazardous materials?

A. The handling, storage and disposal of sorbents, when saturated with hazardous materials, are governed by local, state and federal environmental laws.

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