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April 13, 2019

Is N-Propyl Bromide (nPB) Dangerous?

Six workers in a foam cushion factory were exposed to nPB from between three months and three years.  All had a slow onset of leg pain and numbness, three had nausea and headaches. Five of the six had difficulty walking, leg spasms, muscle twitching and loss of sensation.  A blood test showed greater than expected levels of serum bromide. Two years after exposure to nPB, two of the more severely affected workers maintained a loss of sensation and difficulty walking while a third continued to feel chronic pain. [Majersik et al. 2007]

What is the saddest detail of this story? These people could have lead symptom-free lives had their employer researched safer alternatives to nPB.


What is n-Propyl Bromide (nPB)?

n-Propyl Bromide, also called nPB or 1-Bromopropane, is a solvent with a wide variety of industrial applications, including:
  • Vapor degreasing
  • Adhesive spray applications
  • Dry cleaning
  • Solvent spray applications &
  • Immersion degreasing
There are, however, safer alternatives to nPB in all of these applications, so long as employers are motivated to seek healthier options. 

What Are the Health Effects of nPB?

Exposure to nPB is dangerous.  Exposure most commonly occurs through contact with vapor, which can contact mucous membranes, eyes, the upper airway, skin, and can ultimately cause nervous system damage.  

Neurological effects of nPB include:
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle twitching
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Slurred Speech
  • Loss of sensation in arms and legs

These health risks increase the longer workers are near nPB.   

Additionally, the National Toxicity Program has deemed nPB “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”  With a statement like this from the widely-respected National Toxicity Program, forward-thinking companies have anticipated an increase in regulation and have sought safer alternatives - such as those created by 
FluoSolv® .

What are the Alternatives to nPB?

The FluoSolv® line of azeotropic solvents includes a range of non-flammable, safer alternatives to nPB. 

FluoSolv® works with companies who wish to create safer work environments by finding the optimal solvent for a simple, drop-in replacement.  This allows companies to maintain their processes without putting workers at risk.

Click here to learn more about FluoSolv and replacing nPB.


NuGenTec: Redefining Chemistry

If you are seeking healthier, more environmentally responsible, and less costly alternatives for your industrial processes, contact NuGenTec today.

Source: Majersik JJ, Caravati EM, Steffens JD [2007]. Severe neurotoxicity associated with exposure to the solvent 1-bromopropane (n-propyl bromide). Clin Toxicol 45(3):270-276.