Recovering petrol from end-of-life vehicles

In December 2004 the Health and Safety Executive carried out a series of monitoring visits to End of Life Vehicle depollutors to investigate whether there was a risk of ill health due to exposure to petrol.

The systems monitored were both fuel tank drilling and fuel line cutting processes within high volume facilities.

Exposure monitoring for petrol and its potentially harmful constituents found that providing well maintained depollution rigs and adhering to good practice resulted in a exposure levels being significantly below recognised threshold limits.

Biological monitoring of operators was also undertaken to determine the level of benzene absorbed into workers bodies. This found that levels were all below threshold limits. However, monitoring found that levels up to 55% of the threshold limits were recorded even where the atmospheric levels were at or below the limit of detection.

These results indicate that skin exposure is a potential absorption route and illustrate the need for working practices to avoid skin contact. This would include:

  • Maintaining the seal when draining until all petrol has been drained.
  • Maintenance of equipment to ensure effective seals.
  • Use of powered tool supports to avoid the need to work directly under fuel tanks when draining.
  • Wearing disposable gloves.
  • Changing any clothing that becomes impregnated with petrol, immediately.
  • Immediately washing any area that comes into contact with petrol.
  • Good personal hygiene.

N.B. The monitoring exercise did not observe or record any incidences where operators were grossly contaminated with petrol.

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Updated 2020-07-30