Health and Safety

When proper health and safety precautions are followed, liquid penetrant inspection operations can be completed without harm to inspection personnel. However, there are a number of health and safety related issues that must be addressed. Since each inspection operation will have its own unique set of health and safety concerns that must be addressed, only a few of the most common concerns will be discussed here.

Chemical Safety

Whenever chemicals must be handled, certain precautions must be taken as directed by the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for the chemicals. Before working with a chemical of any kind, it is highly recommended that the MSDS be reviewed so that proper chemical safety and hygiene practices can be followed. Some of the penetrant materials are flammable and, therefore, should be used and stored in small quantities. They should only be used in a well ventilated area and ignition sources avoided. Eye protection should always be worn to prevent contact of the chemicals with the eyes. Many of the chemicals used contain detergents and solvents that can dermatitis. Gloves and other protective clothing should be worn to limit contact with the chemicals.

Ultraviolet Light Safety

Ultraviolet (UV) light or "black light" as it is sometimes called, has wavelengths ranging from 180 to 400 nanometers. These wavelengths place UV light in the invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum between visible light and X-rays. The most familiar source of UV radiation is the the sun and is necessary in small doses for certain chemical processes to occur in the body. However, too much exposure can be harmful to the skin and eyes. Excessive UV light exposure can cause painful sunburn, accelerate wrinkling and increase the risk of skin cancer. UV light can cause eye inflammation, cataracts, and retinal damage.

Because of their close proximity, laboratory devices, like UV lamps, deliver UV light at a much higher intensity than the sun and, therefore, can cause injury much more quickly. The greatest threat with UV light exposure is that the individual is generally unaware that the damage is occurring. There is usually no pain associated with the injury until several hours after the exposure. Skin and eye damage occurs at wavelengths around 320 nm and shorter which is well below the 365 nm wavelength, where penetrants are designed to fluoresce. Therefore, UV lamps sold for use in LPI application are almost always filtered to remove the harmful UV wavelengths. The lamps produce radiation at the harmful wavelengths so it is essential that they be used with the proper filter in place and in good condition.