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OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins
Fatal Fire with "nonflammable" Methyl Chloroform with Welding in a Vapor Degreaser


September 23, 1987

MEMORANDUM FOR:

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

THRU:

  • LEO CAREY
  • Director
  • Office of Field Programs

FROM:

  • EDWARD BAIER
  • Director
  • Directorate of Technical Support

SUBJECT:

  • Health Hazard Information Bulletin: A Fatal Fire with "nonflammable" Methyl Chloroform while Welding in a Vapor Degreaser

Methyl chloroform (1,1,1-Trichloroethane) is widely used as a solvent because of its low toxicity and good solvent properties. Its inability to burn as a liquid (no flash point) can lead users to believe that methyl chloroform will not burn under any circumstances. Attached is an article from the September/October 1986, Archives of Environmental Health entitled, "A Fatal Fire with "nonflammable" Methyl Chloroform." This article dispels the common belief that this material is nonflammable. This article also describes a fatal welding accident and discusses related technical issues.

There is little evidence or experience with these types of fatal accidents or incidents with similar chemicals; however, it is important that OSHA CSHO's are aware of the implications involved with the use of halogenated hydrocarbons in welding or other operations which may cause vaporization.

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