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RE: Aerosol Brake Cleaner Alternative
I am forwarding this information on behalf of one of my colleagues. He is
an expert on automotive P2. Hope it helps!
SAIC MS R-4-3
11251 Roger Bacon Dr.
Reston VA 20190-5232
I would suggest that you investigate an aqueous based system for
brake cleaning. Several vendors make a type of box that can be placed under
the brakes; the cleaning solution is pumped through a small hose with a
nozzle on the end that permits the technicians to clean the brakes without
using chlorinated solvents. The solution is filtered and reused, and lasts a
long time. Be sure to have the filters and fluids tested and characterized
prior to disposal.
One vendor I know about is the Chemfree Corporation at 770 564 5580;
or in line at www.chemfree.com. I think they sell a water based,
Bioremediating system that can be used to clean brakes. I would also
conatct your local Safety Kleen representative as I think they offer this
service as well.
See also EPA Region IX's Vehicle Fleet Maintenance P2 project at
1-800 490-9198; they have, I think, a fact sheet on aqueous brake washers.
I would suggest contacting the vendor of the aerosol product you
are using and determine if there is a formulation that does not contain the
chemicals of concern to you.
I have no direct experience with the chemicals you listed, although
most shop staff I have spoken with seem pleased with the various aqueous
based systems in use. I would suggest that you call Nor Bay and ask them,
very frankly, for an estimate of the hazards. I will say that the chemicals
in the Nor Bay product are probably much less volatile, and although they
may present a health hazard, the hazard is probably far less than
chlorinated solvents. Because they are less volatile, there is probably much
less of a risk from inhalation. As well, if the chemicals are in a water
solution, they are probably much less likely to volatize than an aerosol
I would suggest getting the MSDS of all the chemicals and doing a
side by side comparison. You can make a good assessments on your own. I
would also suggest that you consult with your IH or safety staff to see what
As a general rule, (my own, based upon hundreds of shop visits)
using a product in a liquid form is almost always safer than dispensing the
product as an aerosol. As well, eliminating a chlorinated solvent is always
a health and environmental benefit.
I would suggest that you ensure that the technicians have the
correct PPE for both types of products (spray aerosols or aqueous systems.
I would also suggest asking the technicians if there is any way
that they can reduce the number of brake repair jobs they need to do.
Perhaps better quality pads or shoes, or better quality parts, may be
capable of making a better system requiring less maintenance.
Merrit Drucker, SAIC
703 318 4610
Good luck; call if you want to at 703 318 4610; and let me know what
you find out.