Fugitive Emissions


A hazardous chemical is defined by OSHA as any chemical that is a health hazard or a physical hazard.

Health Hazard

OSHA defines a health hazard as a chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees. Chemicals covered by this definition include carcinogens, toxic or highly toxic agents, reproductive toxins, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins, agents that act on the hematopoietic system, and agents that damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.

Physical Hazard

OSHA defines a physical hazard as a chemical for which there is scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive), or water-reactive.

Additional Hazardous Chemicals

The broad definition OSHA uses to define hazardous chemicals includes not only generic chemicals but also paints, cleaning compounds, inks, dyes, and many other common substances. Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine if the chemicals they produce or repackage meet the definition of a hazardous chemical. A chemical mixture may be considered as a whole or by its ingredients to determine its hazards. It may be considered as a whole if it has been tested as a whole and an MSDS has been issued accordingly. Otherwise the mixture must be evaluated by its components. If the mixture contains 1.0 percent or more of a hazardous chemical or 0.1 percent of an ingredient listed as a carcinogen or suspected carcinogen, the whole mixture is assumed to have the same health and/or carcinogenic hazards as its components.

There are multiple data bases you can consult to learn about these chemicals. The OSHA list includes

Hepatotoxins: Chemicals which produce liver damage
Signs & Symptoms: Jaundice; liver enlargement
Chemicals: Carbon tetrachloride; nitrosamines

Nephrotoxins: Chemicals which produce kidney damage
Signs & Symptoms: Edema; proteinuria
Chemicals: Halogenated hydrocarbons; uranium

Neurotoxins: Chemicals which produce their primary toxic effects on the
nervous system
Signs & Symptoms: Narcosis; behavioral changes; decrease in motor
Chemicals: Mercury; carbon disulfide

Agents which act on the blood or hemato-poietic system: Decrease
hemoglobin function; deprive the body tissues of oxygen
Signs & Symptoms: Cyanosis; loss of consciousness
Chemicals: Carbon monoxide; cyanides

Agents which damage the lung: Chemicals which irritate or damage
pulmonary tissue
Signs & Symptoms: Cough; tightness in chest; shortness of breath
Chemicals: Silica; asbestos

Reproductive toxins: Chemicals which affect the reproductive
capabilities including chromosomal damage (mutations) and effects
on fetuses (teratogenesis)
Signs & Symptoms: Birth defects; sterility
Chemicals: Lead; DBCP

Cutaneous hazards: Chemicals which affect the dermal layer of the body
Signs & Symptoms: Defatting of the skin; rashes; irritation
Chemicals: Ketones; chlorinated compounds

Eye hazards: Chemicals which affect the eye or visual capacity
Signs & Symptoms: Conjunctivitis; corneal damage
Chemicals: Organic solvents; acids

If you are pumping or mixing any of these fluids, or processing them in equipment with rotating shafts, you should be using dual mechanical seals. In recent years dual gas seals have become popular in these applications.

Please see “hydrodynamic seal” & “hydrostatic seal”.


  • On February 15, 2018