Ocularists Experience Discomfort from Methyl Ethyl Ketone Fumes

Eye on blue background (shallow DoF)


By the time the average Joe reaches his desk at work each morning, he has been in contact with potential contaminants in the form of Methyl Ethyl Ketone’s, numerous times. By 9 am, he has walked across the carpet in his home, out the door, and across his lawn, commuted to work and walked through the office, then sat at his desk with a stack of memos waiting to be read.

group of prosthetic eyes ocular

The industries alluded to – those who manufacture glues, pesticides, paints, and inks – aren’t the only trades that come into contact with Methyl Ethyl Ketone. So, too, do dentists, artists, and lab technicians – to name only a few professions. Methyl Ethyl Ketone is a colorless liquid used as a solvent, adhesive, and cleaning agent. It is a man-made chemical and while it can also be found in nature, MEK inhalation creates eyes, nose, and throat irritation. Chronic inhalation exposure may have hazardous health effects in the form of the liver, kidney, respiratory and neurological damage.

But while MEK irritation persists in those who use it, the solvent’s usefulness cannot be understated. Dentists, artists and medical labs use it as a solvent and the personal care industry relies on it in the production of anesthetics and lotions. Ocularists, for example, come in contact with the chemical on an on-going basis in the making of prosthetic eyes. Handcrafted from a fine medical-grade acrylic, ocular prosthetics are made with materials that rely heavily on the MEK’s attributes. Accuracy in the making of an orbital implant, or artificial eye, is crucial. First, there is the initial fitting, then the making of the mold, casting the impression, painting the iris, adding an acrylic dome (using a cutting lathe) to simulate a cornea over the painted surface, positioning the iris on the faux eyeball using acrylic. More artistry needed to perfect the look, fit and form of the prosthetic eye, ending in polishing the finished product before the final fitting. During the entire process, the ocularist is in contact with MEK fumes.

Rather than wait for fumes to enter the air for removal, AIRSInc specialists have recommended capturing contaminants at the source. Air Cleaner s-987-1 and filter F-987-5A capture MEK Vapors are two such products that will fit that bill.

At AIRSInc, we are experts in creating and maintaining clean indoor air. We possess an unsurpassed depth of industry knowledge and can evaluate your indoor environmental needs and recommend a course of action. We have created high-quality air filtration products for implementing your clean air program. Contact us at Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. for a free clean air analysis.