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Risks when entering an enclosed space

Air is of vital importance

We need more than 10.000 litres of air per day. Our lungs draw oxygen from inhaled air. This is distributed through our blood to all organs throughout our body. Good air quality is therefore crucial for a good health (KB 11/03/2002 Chemical Agents).

We live in a chemical world

In our modern society all manufactured goods are the result of chemical production processes. The just-in-time production of our consumer society and the shift of this production to countries with sub standardised safety norms increases the likelihood that we will be faced with seriously polluted air in confined spaces.

Entering poorly ventilated spaces, such as containers, stocks, silos, cargo tanks and the likes of these, always involves enormous risks that can seriously harm the health or even result in death.
Even regular exposure to low concentration of gases or fumes is not without consequence.

Research on import containers

Studies have shown that 7 to 30% of the examined import containers hold toxic gases above the legal value limit (maximum allowed concentrations). Containers that, at first sight, hold innocent cargo such as shoes or toys, often carry the greatest risk. A Swedish study has shown that when unloading import containers, workers are exposed to 1-7% of the original concentration found in the closed container, with peak concentrations up to 70%.

Possible causes of contamination:

  • Emission after production
  • Leakage of substances from the cargo
  • Biological and chemical processes
  • Pesticides/fumigants

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