How Oil Mist Can Affect Your Health

Working in manufacturing can expose you to oil mist

People working in manufacturing facilities (metalworking, milling, and machining) that use oil-based cutting fluids are exposed to the adverse health effects of oil mist. Machines used for production applications, such as screw machines and machining centers, centreless grinders, and CNC machines, creates fine oil mist, which contains undisclosed additives that are harmful to human health. Ensuring an oil mist-free environment is highly crucial to safety and cleanliness in the workplace.

What is Oil Mist

Oil mist is fine airborne droplet particles that measure above one micron in size and can be the result of emulsions or oil smoke. Emulsions are used as coolant or lubricant during machining of ceramic or metallic materials, or to aid in chip removal. They usually consist of 90 to 95 percent water, with the rest of its composition being soluble chemicals. Mineral oil-based metalworking fluids combine with water or oil to produce oil smoke, whose droplets measures below one micron in size. Oil mist from emulsions and oil smoke are equally unhealthy. Emulsions can pass into a worker’s nose and windpipe and can be inhaled or swallowed, while oil smoke can reach into the lungs.

Exposure to oil mists can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Oil mist can also coat the work environment creating an oily, slippery surface. Slippery floors, tools, and controls can be considered safety risks that could potentially lead to a variety of work-related accidents.

How Oil Mist is a Danger to Our Health

Prolonged and repeated exposure to oil mist can be a health risk. To protect workers’ health and wellbeing, a facility should ensure that there is an efficient ventilation system installed. With millions of people from around the world working in manufacturing and industrial facilities, it is vital to reduce, if not prevent, exposure to the dangers of oil mist.

The following are some of the most common health problems associated with exposure to a large concentration of oil mist or oil smoke:


Oil mist can stick to your skin, clog pores, and cause acne

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Oil acne
  • Eczema
  • Photosensitive allergic dermatitis

Respiratory System:

Oil mist exposure can cause respiratory problems like bronchitis

  • Rhinitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Lipoid pneumonia
  • Lung fibrosis
  • Lung cancer

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also added to be wary of the following symptoms:

Oil mists can irritate your eyes

  • Eye irritation
  • Shortness of breathing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and stomach

People working in manufacturing and industrial facilities are exposed to oil mist in three ways: skin exposure, aerial exposure, and ingestion. However, the skin is the most frequent route of exposure. Occupational health experts claimed that skin exposure causes more than three-quarters of all occupational disease. While exposure to oil mist alone can be a danger to the health, it becomes more hazardous when other foreign materials and chemicals contaminate the suspended oil.

How to Protect Your Workers

Appropriate PPE helps protect the health of your workers

Although oil mist suspended in the air can be invisible, evident signs of oil mist can be seen on the floor and wall surfaces, lights, and on the machinery. It also has an easily identifiable odour.

NIOSH reported that employees working close to a machine that uses oil fluids or in facilities with inadequate ventilation systems have higher chances of exposure to metalworking mist or aerosols. Additionally, failure to maintain machinery regularly can also increase the risk of oil mist exposure.

This is why OSHA has recommended that facilities implement a comprehensive metalworking fluid system management program, which includes regular monitoring and recording of metalworking fluids, engineering controls for oil mist, and training and educating employees about the hazards associated with oil mist exposure.

Other effective ways to reduce oil mist exposure:

  • Obtaining Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from the machinery supplier helps you learn the recommended precautionary steps against oil mist exposure.
  • Whenever possible, always choose metalworking fluids that contain the least toxic materials.
  • Maintain proper use of biocides
  • Clean the machines and change metalworking fluids regularly
  • Use the right metalworking fluid delivery system to reduce the amount of generated fluid mist
  • Use cutting machine coolant that comes with a visual coolant filling point and level indicator. Choose the one whose coolant capacity matches with the correct function of the machine tool
  • Use splash guards to get rid of accidental spraying and splashing
  • Reduce the number of pipework kinks and bends
  • Nozzles should be used to optimize the distribution of coolant
  • To maintain indoor quality, install a proper exhaust and local exhaust ventilation. This helps prevent accumulation and recirculation of airborne contaminants and oil mists.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided
  • Educate employees about the health risks associated with oil mist exposure and encourage them to report any skin or respiratory symptoms.

Oil mist collectors can effectively remove dispersed oil from the air

Why Your Company Needs an Efficient Oil Mist Collector

If you own a manufacturing or industrial business, the health of your employees should be among your top priorities. It may be a common perception that factories are dirty and unhealthy places to work, but there are many things you can do to protect the health of your workers. Getting an oil mist collector is one of the most effective ways to ensure an oil mist free working environment. The benefits of using an oil mist collector include:

  • Ensures general safety of the shop – When oil mist escapes from the machine, it can stick on various surfaces. It can reduce the quality of lighting and increase the risk of slip and fall and fire hazard.
  • Prevents skin and respiratory problems – Oil mist collectors improve the health of your workforce by removing oil mist in the air. These devices are mounted to the metal cutting and grinding machines, ensuring a healthy indoor air quality.
  • Meets legal requirements – Installing oil mist collectors means you are satisfying the legal requirements set by OSHA and NIOSH. The current legal requirement for oil mist in air exposed to workers is a maximum of 5 mg/m3.

AMT Machine Tools Ltd. offers the oil mist collector devices that effectively eliminates oil mist, coolant mist, fumes and stream in manufacturing and industrial operations to make your facility a safe and clean place to work. For quality and efficient oil mist collector systems, call us now at (416) 675-7760.