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Customer Questions: Is My Spill Kit Still Good

Question: I’ve had a spill kit sitting in my facility, unused, for several years. How can I tell if it’s still good to use if there is a spill? 

Answer: Conservatively, the absorbents in a spill kit have a shelf life of about five years, but several factors can affect that lifespan. We’ve uncovered kits that are 20 years old and are still viable. On the other hand, we’ve seen some that were stored improperly with absorbents that have degraded in as little as 18 months.

The only way to know if the absorbents in a spill kit are still good is to remove them and check for any signs of white flakes or powder. This is the result of the material absorbents are made out of (polypropylene) degrading.

You should also give the mats, socks or pillows a gentle shake to see if they tear or fall apart. If they do, they’re not suitable to use anymore.

Spill kits that are stored indoors, away from direct sunlight and kept from temperature extremes generally can last longer than the typical shelf life (five years). Kits that are exposed to UV light and temperature extremes, such as truck spill kits, generally do not last as long, and should be checked at least monthly.

Consider purchasing a UV-resistant spill kit if it will be stored and used outdoors. The container will protect the spill kit contents from UV for up to 8,000 hours.

If absorbents are used routinely in other applications throughout the facility, consider rotating them from spill kits that are exposed to UV light or temperature extremes to prevent them from degrading.

Post a sign on the wall where the spill kits are stored. This will help spill responders locate it easily when a spill does happen. In addition, you can incorporate inspecting your spill kits into other inventory checks and audits.