NYMPP: Section 1 - Mechanical Activities
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Products that list
compounds with “...chloro...” are chlorinated compounds, most of which are hazardous due to their toxicity. Many nonchlorinated organic solvents and common parts washer solutions such as petroleum naptha or mineral spirits are also typically hazardous due to their ignitability.













Using water-based,
non-VOC cleaners instead of solvent-based degreasers may help minimize your facility’s regulatory burdens and waste disposal costs.

New York Sea Grant's
Marina Pollution Prevention Web Site

Section 1:
Mechanical Activities
- Degreasing/Parts Washing

Potential Environmental Impacts

Degreasers used to clean metal parts may be organic solvents (chlorinated or non-chlorinated) or water-based cleaners. Organic solvents usually contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can evaporate quickly. Many VOCs combine with combustion emissions to form ground level ozone, a major component of "smog." Ozone damages lungs and degrades many materials. When solvents are released and reach water, even in very small quantities, they may render the water unfit for human use and uninhabitable for aquatic life. Many organic solvents are also combustible, which may pose a fire hazard.

Best Management Practices

  • Use water-based, non-VOC cleaners that are less hazardous than solvent based degreasers when possible. They are also less toxic and non-flammable. Don't use a toxic or flammable organic solvent if you don't have to. For more information on the different types of part cleaners, click here.

  • Try to use less hazardous parts washing systems and products such as aqueous, semi-aqueous, or low VOC cleaners. A number of companies provide non hazardous or less hazardous parts washing products and systems. For examples, click here.

  • If using VOC-based solvents is unavoidable, catch excess solvents in a pan and reuse.

  • Do not mix or add other types of solvents to any degreaser.

  • Never discard any degreasing solvent into sinks, floor drains or onto the ground. It will ultimately find its way to local waters, and as little as a thimble full may render thousands of gallons of water uninhabitable for aquatic life or unfit for human consumption. You may be held responsible for remediation costs.

  • Wipe off parts with a rag or wire brush before soaking in parts washer.

  • If your parts washer doesn't have a drip shelf inside the tub, use a drip tray to drain cleaned parts.

  • Turn off solvent stream and cover the unit when not in use. If your unit is equipped with a heating element, turn it off at the end of the day.

  • Store solvent waste in closed containers.

  • Do not fill cleaning machine above fill line.

  • Clean up spills immediately.

  • Do not agitate solvent to the point of splashing.

Regulatory Issues

  • A hazardous waste determination must be conducted to establish whether or not disposal of waste solvents and parts washer solutions is subject to hazardous waste regulations [40 CFR 262.11] click here. For more information on New York's Hazardous Waste Regulations and storage requirements, click here, pdf. A hazardous waste determination must also be conducted on any materials used to clean a spill.

  • If there is a stormwater discharge from your facility and you perform any outdoor vessel maintenance or repair, including parts cleaning and degreasing, you may have to register for a General Permit for the Discharge of Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activity ("Storm Water General Permit"). For more information on stormwater permitting in New York, click here.

  • Manage soiled rags as described in "Rags" , click here.