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MEK is a liquid solvent used in surface coatings, adhesives, printing inks, chemical intermediates, magnetic tapes and lube oil dewaxing agents. MEK also is used as an extraction medium for fats, oils, waxes and resins. It is a highly efficient and versatile solvent for surface coatings. MIBK is used as a chemical intermediate, a solvent for manufacturing paints, rubbers, pharmaceuticals, other chemicals, and industrial cleaners. It is used in the semiconductor industry. MIBK is very efficient at dissolving resins used in paints, inks, lacquers, and other types of surface coatings

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MEK or MIBK - Header Image


MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone)

What is MEK?

MEK is a colourless and volatile liquid with a sweet odour. The foremost use of MEK is as a solvent and is a highly flammable liquid & vapour which can cause drowsiness and dizziness. This may be harmful if swallowed or enters the airways.

Main Routes of Exposure: Inhalation / Skin contact / Eye contact.

Symptoms of Exposure:

  • Inhalation: Can irritate the nose and throat. At high concentrations, it can harm the nervous system. Symptoms may include a headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. Severe exposure can cause unconsciousness.
  • Skin Contact: May cause mild irritation and can be absorbed through the skin. Above all the harmful effects are not expected.
  • Eye Contact: Causes moderate to severe irritation. Symptoms may include sore red eyes, and tearing Furthermore the vapour can also irritate the eyes.
  • Ingestion: If large amounts are ingested it can cause effects as described for inhalation. MEK can be drawn into the lungs if swallowed or vomited causing severe lung damage. Death.
  • Effects of Long-Term Exposure: Can cause dry and red, cracked skin (dermatitis) following skin contact consequently causing harm to the nervous system.

Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK)

What is MIBK?

MIBK is a colourless liquid with an odour similar to mothballs. While it is usually in liquid form it can also modify itself into a gas. MIBK is used as a solvent in pesticide application in factories that produce paints, rubber products, chemicals and machinery.

MIBK will dissolve in water, alcohols, benzenes and others and results reflect systematic exposure to MIBK that may have entered the body by inhalation or through the skin. If biological monitoring results are greater than the guidance value it does not necessarily mean as a result, that ill health will occur, but it does mean that exposure is not being adequately controlled. Under these circumstances, employers will need to look at current work practices to see how they can be improved to reduce exposure.

Symptoms of Exposure

Exposure to low levels of MIBK:

  • headaches
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • sleepiness and sleeplessness.
  • Skin contact can irritate and burn the eyes, nose and throat, and cause coughing and wheezing.

Other symptoms of exposure:

  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain.

Exposure to high levels of MIBK can be fatal. At high levels, MIBK can lead to narcosis, a condition that
causes a person to lose consciousness or become unable to function.”

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