Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing Industrial Degreasers

Heavy Equipment Cleaning and VOCs, Safety, and Performance

Cleaning heavy equipment in industrial operations is a tough task due to the stubborn nature of heavy oils, bitumen, carbon and oil sand deposits. But, there’s more to the challenge than just finding an effective cleaner or degreaser. You need to choose chemical cleaners that help produce profits, protect people, and help the planet. 

Products that protect human health, meet environmental regulations, including Canada’s new VOC legislation, and improve your efficiency impact your triple bottom line. 

Whether you’re a Procurement Professional, Industrial Hygienist, Manager, or Industrial Maintenance Professional, you need safe products that perform. 

In this guide, we help you navigate the complexities of selecting a multi-purpose industrial solvent or degreaser that effectively cleans, protects human health, and meets stringent environmental regulations. 

The Critical Role of VOC Legislation in Industrial Degreasing

Canada’s new VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) legislation is a significant step forward to reduce the environmental impacts and improve worker safety from industrial activities including those from oil sands operations. 

Understanding the specifics of this legislation is crucial for all cleaning, degreasing, and heavy equipment maintenance operations. This legislation mandates the use of degreasers with minimal VOC content to protect air quality and reduce health risks for workers. No two degreasers are the same, and some don’t meet legislated requirements, putting your workers at risk. 

This guide will help you determine if your chemical supplier and the degreasers you use comply with these regulations. And, if the cleaners and degreasers you use put workers at risk, you can plan your transition to products that contribute to worker safety and sustainable practices. 

Degreaser VOC Content, Safety and Environment

The Hazards of Choosing Conventional Industrial Degreasers and Solvent Cleaners

Exposure to high VOC levels can cause health issues for workers, including respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even more severe long-term conditions. With lower flashpoints, these products create additional safety risks. Solvents and degreasers with lower flashpoints increase the risk of fire or explosion in your operation.

VOC emissions from conventional solvents and degreasers also contribute to air pollution. They form ground-level ozone and particulate matter that harm wildlife, plant life, and reduce air quality. 

By transitioning away from conventional degreasers with high VOC content, you reduce these risks, ensure a safer, healthier workplace and a more sustainable environment. 

Examples of volatile organic compound (VOC) sources. Industrial activities, conventional solvents and degreasers, and transportation and equipment with combustion engines.

Ultra-low VOC (ULV) and VOC-Free (VF) Rated Solvents and Degreasers

Ultra-low VOC (ULV) and VOC free (VF) rated degreasers reduce health risks in cleaning operations and protect the environment. These products lower pollution, create a safer and healthier work environment, and perform better than conventional options. 

VOC Levels: Conventional Degreasers vs. ULV and VF Products

Common conventional solvents and degreasers typically contain higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While some may be compliant with levels up to 30% or more, they can still pose significant health and environmental hazards. Where your application permits, focus your search on options that meet the more stringent threshold of 0.5% or less VOC content excluding fragrance.

VOC content of conventional degreasers compared to ULV and VF rated degreasers

ULV and VF Heavy-Duty Solvent Cleaners and Degreasers: Safety, Sustainability, and Performance

Guardian Chemicals VF (Volatile Organic Compound-Free) and ULV (Ultra-Low Volatile Organic Compound) degreasers surpass the minimum requirements of Canada’s environmental regulations to ensure your operations: 

  • protect worker health and safety 
  • achieve environment and sustainability goals 
  • meet performance requirements 

With VF and ULV cleaners and degreasers you can achieve fast and efficient cleaning and maintenance operations without compromise. 

The VF line offers a VOC-free solution, eliminates worker exposure to harmful emissions and contributes to cleaner air within the workplace. ULV products boast ultra-low VOC content, significantly reducing environmental impact while maintaining high cleaning efficiency.

VOCs and the Path to Net-Zero: ULV and VF Solvents and VOC Emissions

Many countries, organizations, and individuals are working to achieve net-zero emissions. Whether through the UN Net-Zero Coalition, The Climate Pledge, Pathways Alliance or other organization, ULV and VF rated products align with emission reduction initiatives. 

Choose the Best Degreaser: 3 Steps to Transition to Low VOC Degreaser Cleaners

Steps to transition from conventional degreasers to ULV and VF rated low VOC products.

Transitioning to low VOC and VOC-free degreasers is not just an issue of regulatory compliance, it’s a testament to your company’s dedication to your people and the planet. Good for people, good for the planet, and with increased cleaning efficiency, good for your profits too! ULV and VF rated solvent and water-based degreasers contribute to your triple bottom line. 

Making the transition doesn’t have to be difficult. You can assess and make the switch with a simple 3 step process: review supplier and product compliance; assess solvent and degreaser product options; and select ULV and VF rated solvents and degreasers. 

Prioritizing Efficacy, Safety, and Sustainability when Choosing the Best Degreaser for Your Operation

Selecting a multi-purpose solvent or degreaser for heavy equipment cleaning, maintenance, and industrial wash bay operations goes beyond cleaning performance. When choosing the best degreaser or cleaner for your operation, consider environmental impact, worker safety, and regulatory compliance. 

While conventional options may be effective, they are no longer compliant with existing legislation and put your workers at risk. Ultra-low VOC (ULV) and VOC-free (VF) degreasers stand out for their high flashpoints, safety, performance and environmental commitment.  

Choosing the right low-VOC degreaser reduces your risk and helps you maintain your heavy equipment and supports the continued success of operations in a responsible manner. 

When you’re ready, contact Guardian Chemicals to learn how you Create a Better Future with our ULV and VF series of degreasers. 

Table of Contents

FAQ : How to Choose VOC Compliant Industrial Degreaser Cleaners

Learn how to pick industrial degreasers that are better for people, profits, and the planet. Ready to choose a safer, greener degreaser? Contact us to switch today!

What are VOCs?

Volatile Organic Compounds known as VOCs, are chemicals that readily evaporate at room temperature. They can cause negative health effects and environmental damage.

Why are VOCs harmful in solvents, cleaners, and degreasers?

In solvents, cleaners, and degreasers high VOC levels expose workers to harmful chemicals and contribute to air pollution.

How are ULV and VF degreasers different from conventional degreaser cleaners?

ULV (Ultra-Low VOC) and VF (VOC-Free) degreasers contain low to no VOCs, reduce health risks and environmental impact. Conventional degreaser cleaners, have much higher VOC content, posing greater risks.

What are the VOC levels in conventional degreasers?

Conventional degreaser cleaners that comply with Canada’s VOC legislation may contain VOC levels as high as 30%. Non-compliant products have even higher VOC levels.

What are the VOC levels in ULV and VF rated degreasers?

ULV products contain <0.5% VOC while VF products contain no VOCs. These low levels, combined with their high performance make them the right choice for people, profits, and the planet.

Why is compliance with VOC legislation important for my operation?

Compliance minimizes your risks, and protects worker health and the environment while meeting legal standards. It also helps you avoid potential loss time incidents (LTIs), reduces the risk of fire or explosion, protects you from non-compliance fines, and supports sustainability.

Can ULV and VF Degreasers perform as well as high VOC degreasers?

Yes, ULV and VF degreasers are formulated to provide excellent cleaning performance and minimize health, safety, and environmental risks. In many cases, ULV and VF degreasers surpass the performance of conventional high VOC degreaser options.

What are the benefits of switching to ULV or VF degreasers?

Benefits include improved safety for workers, compliance with environmental regulations, reduced risk of fires and explosions due to higher flashpoints, and better performance and sustainability.

Are ULV and VF Degreasers more expensive than conventional high VOC degreasers?

Guardian Chemicals provides expert consultation, water treatment solutions, and support for developing and executing WMPs tailored to your building’s specific needs, helping ensure effective Legionella prevention and compliance with health and safety standards.

How can I verify the VOC content of a degreaser?

Check the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for information on VOC content, or consult with the manufacturer or supplier directly. Ask whether the product is compliant with Canada’s VOC regulations and which category it complies with. 
Products between 0.5% and 30% VOC are suitable under the Multi-Purpose Solvent category. Only products with less than 0.5% comply with the Multi-Purpose Degreaser category for rating under the ULV and VF designations. 
If you’re not sure whether the products you use comply, reach out. We can help you assess your current products and options for compliance.

How do I choose the best industrial degreaser for my wash bay?

Consider the type of soils you need to remove, the VOC content, compliance with environmental regulations, safety, and impact on worker health. If you need help identifying the right degreaser for you, reach out. Our lab can test the soil and surface you’re cleaning to identify the best degreaser for your application.

How do ULV and VF degreasers align with sustainability practices?

Switching to ULV and VF degreasers support sustainability by reducing harmful emissions, promoting safer work environments, and aligning with global efforts to achieve net-zero emissions in all industries.

Can I use ULV and VF Degreasers on all types of industrial equipment?

Yes, ULV and VF degreasers are versatile and can be used across a wide range of industrial equipment. Always consult the product data sheet or talk to your chemical representative to ensure compatibility with the equipment and surfaces you are cleaning. If you need help, reach out and let us know.

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