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Adverse health effects associated with use of flourinated waxes

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

EDIT: (Cliff's): Ski wax chemicals build up in bloodstream via exposure during wax application.  WC techs have 45x the concentration of these chemicals (polyflourinated medium-chain organic acids) in their body compared to general population.  Adverse effects can include endocrine disruption, cardiotoxicity, liver tumors, and other problems.  It should be noted, however, that ski wax is not the only source of these contaminants.

 

300px-Perfluorononanoic_acid.svg.png

 

 

I found this article online while searching for something entirely different.

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ski-wax-chemicals-buildup-blood

 

That's pretty scary... I am now going to stick to CH waxes.

 

Not sure if I should throw out my supply of low, high, and pure flouros.

 

 

 

I thought flouro wasn't supposed to vaporize below 500F???  The article makes reference to "particles," as well as hints transdermal absorption may be an issue?  I always use gloves, but wonder if latex/nitrile gloves are enough... perhaps dual layering with Silver Shield and nitrile gloves may be the best option when working with this wax... as well as a mechanical exhaust system (which I know most people don't use).  And then there's the scrapings.... hmmmm.

 

Anyway thought I'd post this article in case nobody saw it.


Edited by BlueSquare - 7/20/11 at 6:30pm
post #2 of 21

Are you a WC Tech waxing 8-20 pairs of skis a day, for years on end?  If not, relax.  Ever read what basic house hold cleaning products do to you?  Alcohol?  Cigarettes?  Second hand smoke? McDonalds?  The Sun?  or sitting on the couch all day scared to do anything?  Ironically that'll kill you too.  Chill dude.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Well I don't think any flouro ski wax makes reference to PPE (personal protection equipment)... or the toxic effects of the wax.  The flourinated carbon chains add a degree of toxicity that I think is undue given the nature of the product.

 

I've seen individuals rub on sticks of overlay with their bare hands... that is a terrible idea, and I bet if they knew of the hazards, they wouldn't do it.  There was a time when chloroform was a basic household cleaner, and free formaldehyde found its way into beer.  I'm surprised you have to read about waxing hazards in Scientific American to know the full extent of the problem.  Ughh

 

Seeing things like this is alarming sometimes... I just thought I'd share (in case nobody saw the article).


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Are you a WC Tech waxing 8-20 pairs of skis a day, for years on end? No, I wax 5 times a week during ski season. If not, relax.  Ever read what basic house hold cleaning products do to you? unfortunately, yes. Alcohol?  Cigarettes?  Second hand smoke? McDonalds?  The Sun?  or sitting on the couch all day scared to do anything?  Ironically that'll kill you too.  Chill dude. I'm legitimately unsettled, as I probably applied flouro 40 days last season.



 

post #4 of 21

40 times over a season?  WC techs would do that in days.  You should probably hold onto your old toques, you will need them for that second head that is bound to sprout any day now.biggrin.gif

post #5 of 21

Feel free to send me all your unused flouro wax for proper disposal ;)

post #6 of 21

I read a study the other day that said worrying too much about getting cancer will give you cancer.  cool.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Are you a WC Tech waxing 8-20 pairs of skis a day, for years on end?  If not, relax.  Ever read what basic house hold cleaning products do to you?  Alcohol?  Cigarettes?  Second hand smoke? McDonalds?  The Sun?  or sitting on the couch all day scared to do anything?  Ironically that'll kill you too.  Chill dude.



 

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Guys, in my opinion the whole "don't worry about it and it won't hurt you" is a little naive.  Some things are innocuous, other are not.  It's that simple.  What anyone thinks about it doesn't make a difference.

 

Yeah, obviously flouro isn't acutely hazardous (at least if you don't breath in burned vapors or get it on your skin) but the article points to chronic exposure and buildup of potentially troublesome levels.

 

I suppose the biggest source of absorption would be through skin contact.  I've seen in waxing videos nobody wears gloves.  I'd highly suggest gloves, perhaps disposable nitrile/latex under a thicker leather glove to protect from heat/hot wax.  Due to the nature of the chemicals, I'm fairly certain that penetration readily occurs through standard 4 mil nitrile (especially at the higher temps), so the best thing is to just not get the stuff near your skin, or go heavier-duty with gloving.

 

 

For all these reasons I'm gonna use CH as my everyday wax, and only use the flouro for a special occasion (and even then I may limit myself to an overlay over a CH base, to avoid the hot-application risks).

post #8 of 21

Maybe we can get the government to ban fluoro wax.  Right after they make helmets mandatory.  And saftey netting on the edges of all trails.

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NE1 View Post

Maybe we can get the government to ban fluoro wax.  Right after they make helmets mandatory.  And saftey netting on the edges of all trails.



Are you seriously comparing using toxic chemicals to treat your bases to not wearing a helmet (or are you trying to sound clever)?  At least people who don't wear helmets are aware that they could fall on their head.

 

I never said fluoro should be banned.  What I do have an issue with is the lack of safety information (and listing of specific toxic chemicals contained in the wax b/c they are "trade secrets").  Just about anything else of that nature (food, cigarettes, and alcohol included) has disseminated safety information.

 

Anyhow, I really created this thread to draw attention to the article... I didn't mean for an opinionated discussion on the topic to start, especially when vague opinions without substantiating evidence are thrown in to discount the validity of the non-subjective topic.  This isn't an opinion thread really... if I wanted it to be that I would have made a title: "How do you feel about fluoro?"

 

 

I'm not outright stopping using fuoro, or throwing mine away.  But I'm pretty sure I'm going to take more precautions, and use it less.  One part of that may be totally getting rid of hot-fluoro, and just keeping liquid paste, and then solid overlay blocks.

post #10 of 21

 

You and every other home tuner  have been told for absolute eons to wear a breathing mask when using fluoros.     Particles?  Of course there's particles in ski workroom air.    That's what rotobrushing and even handbrushing does.     You are also supposed to wear a mask when sanding drywall and when using sanders and routers on wood.

 

 

"as well as hints transdermal absorption may be an issue" = vague opinion without substantiating evidence      The article says nothing of the sort.

 

 

If you want toxicity labeling against possible skin contact, don't forget have them put it on waterproofing treatments on clothing, stain repellent carpets, and grease-resistant candy and food wrappers.    Every wrapper of every single candy bar you give out on Halloween should have the same warning.    So should your DWR clothing.   Gonna think twice about that microwave popcorn now, huh?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorotelomer

 

 

As far as I can tell, wearing a mask while vacuuming your stain-resistant carpet is going to do more good than wearing gloves during waxing.   You should probably stop eating at McDonalds anyway.

 

 

"Just about anything else of that nature (food, cigarettes, and alcohol included) has disseminated safety information."  Really?   I don't see anything on the microwave popcorn wrapper.   Do you?

 

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cannedtunaman View Post

 

You and every other home tuner  have been told for absolute eons No actually I don't think this is common knowlegde... only being in well-ventilated area. to wear a breathing mask when using fluoros.     Particles?  Of course there's particles in ski workroom air.    That's what rotobrushing and even handbrushing does.     You are also supposed to wear a mask when sanding drywall Of course, nobody wants silicosis. and when using sanders and routers on wood.

 

 

"as well as hints transdermal absorption may be an issue" = vague opinion without substantiating evidence      The article says nothing of the sort.  It is safe to assume that if WC techs do not wear gloves when handling blocks of fluoro overlay, that skin absorption is the main route of entry into the body.

 

 

If you want toxicity labeling against possible skin contact, don't forget have them put it on waterproofing treatments on clothing, stain repellent carpets polymerized monomers do not leach out in appreciable quantities, and grease-resistant candy and food wrappers such things are coated with polymers and are designed to not degrade in the presence of foodstuffs.... it is highly regulated by the FDA, which regulates this so candy is safe to eat, and pop safe to drink.    Every wrapper of every single candy bar you give out on Halloween should have the same warning.    So should your DWR clothing.   Gonna think twice about that microwave popcorn now, huh?  You eat popcorn?

 

The candy-wrapper coatings and carpet coatings you make reference to would be uber-toxic were their constituents in their unpolymerized form.  this is what we have with fluoro... pure single molecules of toxic fluorocarbons (teflon, on the other hand, is not toxic and is ok to cook on because it is a polymer of TFE, and only trace quantities leech out into food).

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorotelomer

 

 

As far as I can tell, wearing a mask while vacuuming your stain-resistant carpet is going to do more good than wearing gloves during waxing. NO   You should probably stop eating at McDonalds anyway. ?

 

 

"Just about anything else of that nature (food, cigarettes, and alcohol included) has disseminated safety information."  Really?  Really...

 



Clearly you are comfortable handling fluoro... please don't let this article stop you.

post #12 of 21

With CH it won't matter with at all.  With flouro there are different things that are going on (obviously) and too much can be bad-- just like how if you eat 200 packs of splenda sugar a day you can get cancer, if you wax 40 skis a day you can get cancer.  

 

Gotta ask though, when and why are you putting on flouros?  Are you a racer, or just have the money to play around with?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueSquare View Post

Guys, in my opinion the whole "don't worry about it and it won't hurt you" is a little naive.  Some things are innocuous, other are not.  It's that simple.  What anyone thinks about it doesn't make a difference.

 

Yeah, obviously flouro isn't acutely hazardous (at least if you don't breath in burned vapors or get it on your skin) but the article points to chronic exposure and buildup of potentially troublesome levels.

 

I suppose the biggest source of absorption would be through skin contact.  I've seen in waxing videos nobody wears gloves.  I'd highly suggest gloves, perhaps disposable nitrile/latex under a thicker leather glove to protect from heat/hot wax.  Due to the nature of the chemicals, I'm fairly certain that penetration readily occurs through standard 4 mil nitrile (especially at the higher temps), so the best thing is to just not get the stuff near your skin, or go heavier-duty with gloving.

 

 

For all these reasons I'm gonna use CH as my everyday wax, and only use the flouro for a special occasion (and even then I may limit myself to an overlay over a CH base, to avoid the hot-application risks).


 

 

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaceDude View Post

 

Gotta ask though, when and why are you putting on flouros? Before any race day. Are you a racer Yes, or just have the money to play around with? I wish
 


 

 



 

post #14 of 21

Worrying about cancer is what really givers people cancer.  Think of all the other things we breathe and ingest that we have no idea of the purity of.  Nobody really cares enough to fund the FDA sufficiently  to check stuff we eat or drink so why worry about a little ski waxth_dunno-1[1].gif

post #15 of 21
Despite the extreme difference of opinion that frequently shows up here, there does seem to be an agreement that "Too Much" of anything causes adverse health effects... right?

OK, that said (and generally agreed on) the question becomes: "How much is too much of a particular substance?"

Familiar with many of Material Data Safety Sheets from years in the manufacturing industry I can say from experience that such sheets change the definition for what is "too much" over time. Harm takes time to occur, the quantity of people harmed takes time to notice, the adverse health effects take time to get documented, statistical numbers take time to accumulate and actual 'studies' done take time to be completed. Even if adverse information is accumulated, MDS Sheets only reflect the absolute minimum warning information that corporations producing the chemical can get away with - it generally takes governmental actions to get those sheets updated with current-study information if the health-change info is negative. Of course, if the health-change info is positive the sheets get changed that instant.

In any case, there's no chance a new chemical (or new application of an old chemical) can be properly evaluated right off unless it clearly demonstrates blatant short-term harm. There just isn't any evidence of long-term harm until 'long term' itself occurs.


---
For myself, I realize just how enthusiastically the Profit Motive drives many chemicals into our lives and therefore choose to err on the side of caution. I don't see any reason to avoid flourinated wax entirely yet, but considering the lack of long-term health data I've no reason to sprinkle it on my cereal every morning either. Reading up on 'current suspicions' isn't going to hurt me in any case (unless I suffer from chronic stress that is...wink.gif).

.ma
post #16 of 21

Wax fumes, period, aren't good for you.  Fluoro isn't more of a worry than other wax unless you're intentionally doing something stupid, like running your iron hot enough that the whole room gets super-smoky.  But bugspray and fingernail polish fumes also aren't good for you; neither is gasoline.  If you are an idiot determined to hurt yourself by reckless behavior around commonly used chemicals, it's probably better to at least let the chemicals be from ski wax and in the process get some skiing in. 

 

If you're not an idiot, wax fumes are a very easy issue to address as it is -- no additional precautions are really needed.

post #17 of 21

"as well as hints transdermal absorption may be an issue" = vague opinion without substantiating evidence      The article says nothing of the sort.  It is safe to assume that if WC techs do not wear gloves when handling blocks of fluoro overlay, that skin absorption is the main route of entry into the body.

 

I would assume that the route to internalizing the material from the skin is ingestion - having it on your hands and touching your face, or rubbing your eyes, putting your fingers in your mouth, or eating while working.  The transdermal route is a very uncommon one.

 

Also, my first question would be what is the toxic or unsafe level for this chemical?  They say the level is 45 times greater than the general population for WC techs.  I'm surprised its only 45.  That's not much given the average person (even the average skier) doesn't ski (or wax their own skis) and you're comparing to the most extreme condition, a WC tech exposed to lots of this stuff in an enclosed environment.  I come away with a different conclusion.  I think it says it is very difficult to get it into your blood stream, because even in an extreme environment where the levels are many thousands/millions/billions or more greater than normal, the levels in the techs blood are only 45 times greater.

 

Now the real question is what does 45 mean?  Is that dangerous?  Or is 100, 1000, 10000 times normal dangerous?  45 times could be 1000's of times lower than the toxic level.

 

There is not much balance to this article, but that is common in news nowadays.

 

Marc

post #18 of 21

This is what I wrote a while ago ;)

 

Quote:

I always believed they (HF waxes) are, if not dangerous, at least not healthy, so I always used gas mask, even when they were not very common thing in WC wax rooms, and I was one of first ones to use them in WC. Just last week in Val Gardena I went by to see friend, and he was still in wax room, so I popped down there. Considering he prepares quite few skis every day, and day after day, I was pretty surprised to see him without mask. So we had a bit of discussion about this. He's working for one of big wax companies, and they send them to tests 5 or 6 times a year, and even after quite some time in WC, his tests doesn't show anything... yet.

I admit I'm not all that good with chemistry (even though it should be different considering my school background :)), and I don't really care much of it, so I just believe to this what people tell me when it comes to this. If this is true, fluor is dangerous when it gets heated over 300c. Normally, fluoro waxes are heated somewhere up to 170, 180c (some fluoro powders), which is still far far from previously mentioned 300c. So these things might not be life threatening, but for sure they are not healthy, so my gas mask stays with me... even though pair or two of skis a week nowadays won't do much harm :)

 

I still stick with this what I wrote... HF waxes are most likely really not all that dangerous, but if cheap (less then 100eur worth) gas mask can eliminate this worry, then I don't see reason why not to use it. Nowadays masks are so light and so ergonomic, they hardly bother you while wearing them ;)

post #19 of 21

For the average casual skier/waxer, waxing in a well ventilated area and not breathing in the fumes directly is substantial protection to avoid long term effects.  

 

There are lots of things that I worry about, but this isn't one of them.

 

Blue Square, I'm just curious......for someone who seems to be so cautious(at the risk of sounding paranoid) about many of the aspects of skiing.........do you really enjoy skiing?

If I worried, as you seem to, about all these things,(as seen in your other posts) I'm not sure I'd be able to ski.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be standing paralyzed at the base of the hill for fear of getting on a faulty chair lift.

 

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

 

Blue Square, I'm just curious......for someone who seems to be so cautious(at the risk of sounding paranoid) about many of the aspects of skiing.........do you really enjoy skiing?

If I worried, as you seem to, about all these things,(as seen in your other posts) I'm not sure I'd be able to ski.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be standing paralyzed at the base of the hill for fear of getting on a faulty chair lift.

 



Trees kill people, chemicals cause cancer and other health effects.  Chairlifts rarely break, and bombing down groomers is safe.  It's pretty straight-forward.

post #21 of 21

There's good and bad to everything.  Trees make oxygen for us to breath and chemicals cure/prevent cancer.  Life isn't that simple.  And that's my point about the article; there is no balance that puts the facts in perspective of risk to the average skier or person.  Now it may well be that it is unknown, and that's OK, but a responsible author would say so - someone wanting exposure would decline to do so.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueSquare View Post





Trees kill people, chemicals cause cancer and other health effects.  Chairlifts rarely break, and bombing down groomers is safe.  It's pretty straight-forward.


 


 

 

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