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Absorbents colour coding and uses

With the array of absorbent materials on offer, from different manufacturers, to clean up spills how do you choose the right kit? Or know what liquids different absorbent materials will deal with?

Perhaps the first thing to consider before buying absorbent materials or spill kits is to look at the different potential spill hazards you have on site. Do you use chemicals? Do you use fuel oil?

Absorbent material products to clean up spills come in three different types - general absorbents, oil absorbents and chemical absorbents and these are now usually colour coded.

• general absorbents – colour coded grey

• oil absorbents – colour coded white

• chemical absorbents – colour coded yellow

All three types of the above absorbents will absorb oil, so it’s worth considering this when making your choice. However, oil only absorbents will not soak up water so are perfect to use outside and also if there is a chance that oil and water may mix. They are thus used heavily in removing surface oil from spills in water courses and from the ocean.

Chemical absorbents are the other more expensive option and have a wide range of substances that they can absorb, but are best employed where chemical spills may happen due to their cost constraints.

Previous article Understanding Requirements for Hazardous Substances: Prevention, Storage, and Clean Up

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