Safety Precautions When Handling Brake Fluidby Justin Chacos
Like commercial aircraft landing gear, backhoe buckets and racing jacks, your vehicle’s brakes are driven by a powerful liquid-based system. This pressurized, sealed system uses the muscle pressure of a hydraulic medium to slow your vehicle when you press the brake pedal. Brake fluid, regulated by the Department of Transportation, is hazardous and must be handled with care.
Glycol-based Brake Fluid
DOT-3, DOT-4 and DOT-5.1 glycol-based brake fluid has several hazardous properties. Ingestion is a major concern and may cause liver or kidney failure, and affect lung and central nervous system function. Although it has low volatility, inhalation of large quantities of glycol-based brake fluid mist, fumes or vapor may cause cough, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, or even death. It is an eye irritant and can be absorbed through the skin. Spilled glycol-based brake fluid is slippery and may cause falls.
Silicone-based Brake Fluid
Silicone-based DOT-5 brake fluid is an eye and skin irritant and may be absorbed through the skin. It has a lower ingestion toxicity and inhalation is not a large concern due to its viscous nature. However, use extreme care to avoid ingestion or inhalation, wear proper personal protective equipment, and apply first aid if swallowed or ingested.
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