COSHH assessment of the health hazards of glass cullet

Topics Covered

1. Potential health hazards
2. Handling precautions
3. First aid treatment
4. Fire fighting requirements
5. Waste disposal requirements

1. Potential health hazards

Cullet can present a physical hazard from sharp particles, causing cuts and eye damage. In powdered form it should be considered a biologically inert nuisance particulate.

1.1 Inhalable Dust

No specific limit value is currently specified by the Health and Safety Executive in their EH40/2002 listings for airborne dust generated by this substance. In the absence of any specific value it is recommended that the limit values for total inhalable and respirable dust which are considered as “substantial” under COSHH regulations should be applied. These limits are given below.

Total inhalable dust approximates to the fraction of airborne material which enters the nose and throat during breathing and is therefore available for deposition in the respiratory tract. An occupational exposure standard (OES) of an airborne concentration of 10 milligrams per cubic metre of air of total inhalable dust is advised, measured as an eight-hour time-weighted average.

Respirable dust approximates to the fraction of total inhalable dust which can penetrate the gas exchange region of the lung during breathing. An OES of an airborne concentration of 4 milligrams per cubic metre of air of respirable dust is advised, measured as an eight hour time-weighted average.

1.2 Over exposure - acute effects

There are no known acute or chronic effects from over-exposure to glass cullet.

1.3 pH value

Glass is of low solubility in water and can therefore be considered to be pH neutral.

1.4 Incompatibility

There are no known problems associated with incompatibility of cullet with other chemicals.

1.5 Other hazards

Work clothing contaminated with cullet should be washed separately from other personnel clothing because trapped glass particulates could cause skin irritation.

2. Handling precautions

Eye protection should be worn. Whenever large quantities are handled manually, the following protective equipment should be worn: overalls, stout gloves with closefitting tops, respiratory protection (e.g. 3M 8800 disposable dust mask), stout-soled shoes or boots. Whenever large quantities of cullet are handled the production of excessive dust should be avoided.

3. First aid treatment

3.1 Eye contact

Pieces of cullet in the eye can easily cause permanent damage. Irrigate the eye with water and obtain medical attention.

3.2 Skin contact

Cuts and scratches should be attended to immediately, by reporting to a qualified first aider. Contact with cullet dust could cause skin irritation. If the irritation persists or develops into a rash, obtain medical attention.

3.3 Inhalation

Glass dust has no significant biological effect but it could interfere with comfort and welfare. There is no evidence to suggest that cullet causes permanent damage to the respiratory system.

3.4 Ingestion

Glass is not toxic. However, swallowing cullet could cause physical damage and in the event of this happening, medical attention should be obtained.

4. Fire fighting requirements

Glass cullet is non-combustible and does not present an explosion hazard.

5. Waste disposal requirements

This material can be recycled.

Primary author(s): CTU University of Dundee

Source:  Realising a high-value sustainable recycling solution to the glass cullet surplus

           COSHH Assessment – Glass Cullet

          DTI Research Contract No.GW-12.10-108

           Issued by WRAP May 2004

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