Chemistry is a concern in any industry that may introduce harmful material into its surroundings. The power generation industry has significant contact with groundwater and air supplies, but it’s not the only industry that needs to be concerned with chemicals. Other industries also interact at some level with the environment. In airport operations, and high rise construction, volatile and environmentally harming chemicals should not be used. This is simply because a loss of control on this type of chemical means a great safety and economic loss for the surrounding area.
In general, if the release of the chemical into the water or air has a harmful effect on people or the environment then it should be excluded from use in foreign material exclusion operations. These toxic chemicals are better left for use in contained and retrievable areas where proper containment and disposal can be guaranteed.
Certain chemicals have a corrosive effect on stainless steel.
Heavy metals, halogens, chlorides and otherwise toxic chemicals should be avoided. If they are introduced to an open system they pose a possibility of being released into the water or air supply. These chemicals as well as others can also be corrosive to nearby equipment. They will increase wear, and could affect the operability and safety of the impacted equipment in the future. Components low in these corrosive chemicals will have a less damaging impact on the surrounding environment and equipment.
It is especially important to avoid using improper chemicals in enclosed working environments. If a product contains halogens and they are released into the air, either from heating or burning, the resulting fumes are corrosive. They will be harmful to electronics, equipment and personnel.
So let’s assume a tinted plastic bag that was once used to carry parts is left in a component of a nuclear station on accident – for whatever reason this plastic bag was lost. The plant comes back online and the product gets into the water supply, or it is burned and released into the air. If it was a plastic bag that was low in harmful chemicals then little harm is done. If it was a plastic bag with toxic chemicals, the surrounding community has just been contaminated, or worse yet, the airborne contaminants could have damaged surrounding operating equipment prompting cleanup, inspection, and repair crews to canvas the area looking for damage and fixing mistakes. The time spent in the process is money lost for the nuclear station.
Make an effort to use products that don’t contain potentially harmful chemicals, and your workplace will be safer and less expensive in the long run.