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Booms are cylindrical and vary in length and width.
Booms are used to control and contain spills. Some booms are made to be used to contain
spills on water, and can be connected together and deployed onto the water as a large
Socks or mini booms are
cylindrical and vary in length and width. This form of sorbent is typically used in
facility spill response or maintenance applications. Socks can be used to contain spills
or placed around machinery or other equipment to contain leaks.
Pillows are rectangular and filled with sorbent
media. They're used to clean up medium-sized spills. Place pillows under drip pans to
eliminate overflow problems, or use as a precaution for a possible spill when transferring
Pads and rolls are flat sorbent
sheets available in unperforated rolls, perforated rolls or manufactured to a specific
size, up to 300 feet long. Pads can be used to line shelves, catch leaks under machinery
and clean up spills. Rolls can be cut to specific lengths for larger applications.
Loose sorbents are composed of sorbent media that
is not contained in any type of pillow or mesh. Application of loose sorbents depends on
the type of sorbent media used. Loose sorbents are typically used on small spills.
The three categories of sorbents are: universal, petroleum and
maintenance. These categories are made up of several different sorbent materials,
including synthetics such as polypropylene; inorganic materials, such as expanded
silicates and clay; and organic materials, such as cellulose and wood fibers.
Universal sorbents are designed to absorb any
liquid. They will absorb aggressive liquids, such as acids and bases, as well as non
aggressive liquids and solvents, such as cleaners, water-based fluids, gasoline and
alcohols. Universal sorbents are made of polypropylene or expanded silicate materials.
Note: When cleaning up hydrofluoric acid, do not
use an expanded silicate absorbent, as the expanded silicate material will react with the
hydrofluoric acid. Instead, use a sorbent made of polypropylene.
Petroleum sorbents or "oil-only sorbents"
are designed for absorption of oil and/or petroleum-based liquids. These sorbents are
hydrophobic, which means they will not absorb water or water-based liquids. These can be
deployed on water surfaces for emergency cleanup of spills, or used in maintenance
applications for hydraulic and engine oil cleanup. Petroleum sorbents are made of
polypropylene or treated cellulose.
Maintenance sorbents absorb non aggressive liquids
commonly found in manufacturing/maintenance operations. Examples of these liquids include
coolants, lubricants, oils and cutting fluids. Maintenance sorbents will pick up
water-based as well as oil-based fluids. These sorbents are typically made of recycled
materials, such as cotton, wool, cellulose or corn cob. They can also be made of
polypropylene, or a combination of the materials listed above.
Sorbent capacity can be listed by the amount of
weight it will absorb in relation to itself ("Absorbs 12 times its weight.") or
by its liquid capacity ("Absorbs 8 gallons."). For example, if a boom weighs one
pound and absorbs 12 times its weight, it will absorb 12 pounds of fluid. However, since
all liquids don't weigh the same per gallon, the weight capacity of the sorbent actually
varies from liquid to liquid. So perhaps a more accurate way to assess sorbent capacity is
by how many gallons it will absorb, or its liquid capacity. This amount will remain fairly
static, regardless of the fluid weight. A boom that's 4' long and 3" inches in
diameter will typically absorb 1 to 11/4 gallons of liquid. A pad that measures 16" x
20" and is 3/16" thick will absorb 2832 fluid ounces. (Both of these
examples are for polypropylene sorbents. Other materials may have different sorbent
Sources For More Information
29 CFR 1910.120, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
Emergency Spill Response Pocket Guide, Lab Safety Supply Product Number 26221
Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for
general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the
applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal
advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or
consult with an attorney.
Copyright 2002 Lab Safety Supply Inc.