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Low Cost Styrene Abatement System Arrives In UK

  • Friday, 7th May 2004
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Terminodour Styrene Abatement System meets new legislation to oxidize styrene.

The likelihood of increased European legislation and stricter working practices associated with styrene have led to concern from the UK Composite processing industry regarding the cost of implementing and adhering to impending legislation.

The Terminodour Styrene Abatement System was developed in the late nineties in Scandinavia to meet the latest legislation restricting styrene occupational exposure levels and emissions to less than 20ppm.

The system uses ionisation technology to oxidise styrene at source with the principal benefits being the systems low cost when compared with other technologies and Terminodour’s ability to improve the working environment for staff. The ionisation modules can be built into existing ventilation system to reduce cost and are ideal for retrofitting.

Numerous projects are operational within Scandinavia and are operating at levels below the 20ppm limit that is now a legal requirement there. A detailed case study of a small sports boat manufacturing plant is available from CSO Technik complete with an independent consultants test report on the systems efficiency.

According to Colin Froud, Managing Director of CSO Technik the system is ideally suited to both small and large composite manufactures alike. “For smaller businesses the capital and running costs are affordable. For large manufacturers the system costs are far lower than other technologies with considerably less power requirements but in both cases emission levels are minimised and at the same time the working environment is improved”.

Current UK legislation regarding occupational exposure of styrene is relatively lax when compared with other countries such as Sweden and France. However future legislation is likely to bring UK legislation in line with tougher levels experienced elsewhere.

Current methods of styrene abatement do not treat the air flow air within the working environment and any internal improvement to air quality will depend on a high air change rate and the efficiency of the extraction system.

Styrene vapours are classed by the HSE as an irritant to the nose throat and lungs with neurological impacts resulting in drowsiness, headaches and nausea. Although the HSE do not specify a safe level of exposure the current (April 2003) MEL averaged over an 8-hour day for Styrene is 100 parts per million (ppm). The Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) is 250ppm averaged over a 15 minute exposure period.

However there is a legal requirement for users to minimise exposure “as low as reasonably practicable” below the level of the MEL. The general unwritten view is that this should be around 50% of the MEL.

These figures far exceed those of Scandinavia where the MEL’s have long been reduced to 20ppm. In the USA the 50ppm MEL was introduced in July 1997 however the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) subsequently adopted a recommended 20ppm MEL. The Terminodour system is claimed to be technically proficient in reducing the maximum exposure limit for styrene too less than 20ppm, providing a healthier working environment for operators.

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