Metalworking Fluids

ORIGIN: Moldex Technical Services Department


Metalworking fluids are used for their cooling, lubricating, and corrosion-resistant properties in operations such as metal grinding, boring, drilling, and turning. They are used to reduce heat and friction and to improve the quality of the metal part in machining and grinding operations. These fluids can be complex mixtures of oils, detergents, surfactants, biocides, lubricants, and anti-corrosion agents, as well as an assortment of other ingredients.

Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause a variety of skin and respiratory conditions including dermatitis, hypersensitivity lung inflammation, chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, and asthma. Metalworking fluids have also been associated with a higher incidence of cancer.

Use of machining or metalworking fluids is widespread, and the result is millions of workers exposed to these substances.

Moldex® Solution

OSHA recommends the use of an R or P respirator with a filter efficiency appropriate to the hazards (i.e. 95, 99 or 100). Moldex® respirators can be used for these situations up to 10X PEL. The Moldex® 2740R95 Series, 2360P100 Series, or the 8000 Series respirator with an R or P filter could be used, where appropriate. (The choice of appropriate protection should be made by an Industrial Hygienist or qualified health and safety professional.)

Affected Industries

Farm Equipment
Heavy Machinery
Grinding Operations
Anywhere that metals are machined and cutting fluids are used


  • NIOSH Update: Recommendations to Control Exposures Suggested by NIOSH in Comprehensive Health Effects Review of Metalworking Fluids. DHHS (NIOSH) (1998, January), 3 pages.
  • Metalworking/Machining Fluids. OSHA Summary Sheet, 2 pages.
  • Metalworking Fluids: Safety and Health Best Practices Manual. Directorate of Technical Support (2001).

OSHA Safety & Health Topics Metal Working Fluids:

NIOSH Safety & Health Topic Metal Working Fluids:

NIOSH Publication No. 98-102:

WARNING: The information contained in this Tech Brief is dated and was accurate to the best of Moldex’s knowledge, on the date above. It is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it intended to be used in place of the warning/use instructions that accompany Moldex respirators. Outside of the USA, check with all applicable and local government regulations.

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