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The term 'solvent' is applied to a large number of chemical substances which are used to dissolve or dilute other substances or materials. They are usually organic liquids. Many solvents are also used as chemical intermediates, fuels, and as components of a wide range of products. You are most likely to be exposed to solvents if you work in industries where they are used extensively. In the construction industry, for example, solvents act as carriers for surface coatings such as paints, varnishes and adhesives. The most common solvents found in construction are:

  • white spirit - in paints, varnishes and cleaning products.
  • xylene - in paints and adhesives.
  • 1-butanol - in natural and synthetic resins, paints and lacquers. Many solvents are flammable.

Take precautions to avoid fire and explosion risks; in particular, do not smoke in areas where solvents are used