How to avoid risks to the respiratory system in cosmetics manufacturing


One often hears about chemical hazards but few people actually know what these are. Occupational hazards are actually more widespread than one might think and affect many different types of jobs including the least suspect.

Definition of chemical risk

Chemical risk by definition is related to the possibility of coming into contact with chemicals potentially harmful to human health. The aspect that deserves specific attention in this definition, however, is the fact that chemicals are not used exclusively in the chemical or related industries but are now used in almost all industrial and many handicraft preparations.

There are, naturally, areas where the risk is greater but it is also true that a prolonged exposure to small doses of chemicals or components that are thought to be less harmful than others may still cause harmful effects on health

The definition of chemical risk has appeared in occupational health and safety literature only recently being used primarily within the chemical industry but, thanks to an important awareness raising campaign following an increase in the number of occupational illnesses resulting from exposure to chemical agents, other sectors have begun taking the issue seriously and have started protecting their workers by supplying PPE for the protection of the body parts most at risk of exposure.

Italian legislation has dealt rather well with this issue and has provided a comprehensive text in which chemical hazards are assessed on the basis of the following important factors:

  • the assessment of risk related to product processing,
  • the assessment of risk related to exposure,
  • the assessment of the actual type of risk (which is the sum of the two previous factors).

Chemical hazards in cosmetics manufacturing: how to protect the respiratory system

Among the industries where this risk is most evident is the cosmetics industry. The main chemical risk during the production of cosmetics is that the particularly strong solvents used are inhaled by workers and get deposited into their respiratory system. This usually leads to a hypersensitivity towards these substances, but, if exposure to persists over time, more serious illnesses may also occur including the onset of lung disease and cancer.

The recommended respiratory protective device is an air purifying respirator  which, when properly donned by worker, will allow them to breathe clean, filtered air. This type of device is usually made up of a battery-powered blower unit equipped with a filter that removes harmful particles from the environment air which is then conveyed to the inside of a facepiece. The exhaled air and any excess air is expelled through a check valve – this has a demisting effect on the visor and contributes towards creating optimal breathing and working conditions.

This system is ideal for ensuring the best working conditions in the presence of harmful airborne chemicals which are potentially hazardous to the health of workers and, in particular, to their respiratory system.