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"Health hazards in electroplating"
I will soon operate an electroplating facility for a company. Zinc pieces will get covers of copper, nickel and/or silver, later gold. The baths have volumes of 200 liter. The plant is almost ready, people are now still constructing it. I know the chemical products from the info given by the supplier. The process looks rather classic (preparation, activation, Cu alk.,Cu acid, NiCl2 & NiSO4, Ag-salt).
Reading the info of the supplier, it seems like I will be walking and working between baths with constant threat ("toxic", ...). So I am thinking of using a mask, gloves, cloth, glasses,.. whatever exists to protect myself. Or is the supplier covering his back and am I exagerating? Someone in the company with a bit of experience, tells me he used almost nothing to protect himself.
electroplating department - Mexico
H.L. Mencken wrote: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary". Today the media as well as the politicians depend upon toxic hobgoblins for their livings -- we stay up for the 11 o'clock news, and the consequent commercials, only because the newscasters issue teasers warning us of the dangers we won't know about if we don't do so -- so the potential dangers of electroplating can be easily exaggerated.
Still, we are--at the least--speaking of strong acids and alkalis that can burn and blind and it is perfectly appropriate to wear boots, Rubber Gloves [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] and ventilated goggles [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] when working in a plating shop. Depending upon what you are doing, an apron [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], full face shield [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], elbow length gloves, and respirator will be appropriate at times.
The fact that one or many employees have escaped uninjured does not mean that personnel protective equipment is not appropriate! Most police officers wear bullet proof vests every single day despite our expectation that the average officer will not have a bullet fired at them even once in their entire career. The odds of you encountering a splash or other exposure to a dangerous chemical are much much greater than a police officer being fired upon.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey