Moving towards safer alternatives

Subsport - Substitution Support Portal

Further languages available    
014-EN, General section

Substitution of toluene, xylene and naphthas as cleaning solvents for tools in an auto-repair shop


This case story presents the substitution of the product Safety Clean (a universal solvent containing toluene, xylene and naphthas, among other agents). The degreasing compound was used to clean working tools in an auto repair shop.

Substituted substance(s)

  1. Toluene

    CAS No. 108-88-3 EC No. 203-625-9 Index No. 601-021-00-3
  2. Xylene

    CAS No. 1330-20-7 EC No. 215-535-7 Index No. 601-022-00-9
  3. Naphtha, hydrotreated light

    CAS No. 64742-49-0 EC No. 265-151-9 Index No. 649-328-00-1
  4. Acetone

    CAS No. 67-64-1 EC No. 200-662-2 Index No. 606-001-00-8
  5. n-Butyl acetate

    CAS No. 123-86-4 EC No. 204-658-1 Index No. 607-025-00-1
  6. 4-Methylpentan-2-one

    CAS No. 108-10-1 EC No. 203-550-1 Index No. 606-004-00-4

Alternative substance(s)

  1. Non ionic surfactants

    CAS No.  EC No.  Index No. 

Other type of alternative

Reliability of information

Evidence of implementation: there is evidence that the solution was implemented and in use at time of publication

Hazard assessment

Toluene is toxic for the reproduction: Possible risk of harm to the unborn child (R63). Also it is irritating to skin (R38) and its vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness (R67). The substance may cause lung damage if swallowed (R65). There are a danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation (R48/20). Also Toluene is Highly flammable liquid and vapour H225)

Xylene is harmful by inhalation and in contact with skin (R20/21) and also is irritanting (R38)

Naphtha, hydrotreated light , may cause cancer(R45 and H350) and heritable genetic damage (R46). If it is swallowed and enter airways may be fatal (H304). It is listed in the Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC).

Acetone is irritanting for eyes (R36). Its vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness (R67) and also sking dryness or craking (R66). The substance is highly flammable (R11).

n-Butyl acetate is highly flammable. Its vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness (R67) and also skin dryness or craking (R66).

4-Methylpentan-2-one is highly flammable. Also is harmful by inhalation (R20) and irritatin to eyes and respiratory system. Its vapours may cause drowsiness and dizziness (R67) and also sking dryness or craking (R66).

The substance is: 2B carcinogen (IARC) as listed in the Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC).

Alternative Substance:

Non ionic surfactants: has no harmonised classification according to Annex VI of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP Regulation)

» Check the Substance Database according to SUBSPORT Screening Criteria (SDSC)

Top of page

Substitution description

The substituted product was used as a solvent in auto repair and maintenance shop. The product was kept in plastic buckets supplied by the manufacturer for the manual degreasing of tools. Even though the facility had retention tanks and individual protection equipment was provided for workers, the use of the solvent implied an unnecessary environmental and health risk. The use of dangerous, carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals was disclosed by the regional union’s health and safety department (CC.OO.). Union experts visited the company facilities and requested the Safety Data Sheets of all the products used in the shop, focusing on solvents. They found out that the solvent contained toluene, xylene, naphthas and other toxic agents. During the first visit the company’s health and safety manager committed to substitute the product.
Specinet Bio Fluid (a nonionic surfactant-based product) was suggested as substitute and implemented in all the company’s facilities after the feasibility of the product was tested.


Risks were reduced and environmental quality was improved.
The alternative was accepted by both workers and employers.
The time used for substitution work proved satisfactory.

Additional comments

The union’s advice was a key factor for the success of the substitution process.

Top of page

Case/substitution evaluation

The substitution has been very positive: human health and the environment risks have been eliminated. The alternative may cause eye irritation making it necessary to use preventive security measures, but SUBSPORT can recommend the product as an alternative in such cases.

Top of page

Other solutions

Further information

Specinet Bio Fluid


Further languages available


Who provided the information

Type of information supplier


Publication source

Type of publication and availability 

Comments from SUBSPORT users

Top of page

Publication or last update: 16.05.2012