1- Are there other safe materials or alloys for hazardous atmospheres apart from the Cu-Be and Al-Bron?
2- Are copper, brass or tin bronze, substitutes for Cu-Be and Al-Bron?
3- Is it true that the Cu-Be is carcinogenic?
4- Is there exist non-sparking alloy without beryllium, and also completely non-magnetic?
5- What alloy should be used in an atmosphere of acetylene?
6- And the tools of plastic-coated steel are safe?


1- Are there other safe materials or alloys for hazardous atmospheres apart from the Cu-Be and Al-Bron?

Yes, for example copper, tin bronze, brass or manganese bronze.
 

2- Are copper, brass or tin bronze, substitutes for Cu-Be and Al-Bron?

No. While the sparks will not have energy  enough for igniting explosive atmosphere, these materials have hardness and resistance lower than the Cu-Be and Al-Bron (between 4 to 6 times lower), so they are not suitable for use in hand tools.

Only mallets or hammers can be manufactured in these alloys. Nonetheless, its reduced useful life makes them a less cost-effective even in the short term.

Therefore, copper, brass and tin bronze mallets and hammers are not a substitute for Cu-Be or Al-Bron. These alloys are useful and necessary only when a very low hardness is required, so that the beating therewith not damage the part struck. The choice is easy, if in a normal environment we would use a copper, brass or tin bronze mallet, so we choose these alloys also for the same application in an explosive atmosphere. However, if in a normal environment would select steel  hammers or mallets, in this case the same application in explosive environments require Al-Bron, or even better, Cu-Be.
 

3- Is it true that the Cu-Be is carcinogenic?

There is some confusion about this issue. Yes, it is shown that beryllium in the form of dust, inhaled for long periods and continuously (in foundries where this alloy is melted and that do not comply with safety rules, basically) can cause lung cancer.

But there is no evidence or recorded cases of the Cu-Be like a reason of cancer, and let alone in its use as a hand tool. The reasons are:

a) The Cu-Be has only 2% of beryllium in its composition

b) It is not in powder form, so you do not inhale it

c) The exposure is minimal

It is for this reason that there is no country in the world to prohibit or restrict the use of this alloy. Moreover, it is a common alloy in the coating of certain aircraft components, precisely because of its low coefficient of friction. Therefore, you can ensure that the risk of Cu-Be tools for the user is infinitely inferior to other agents to which we are exposed daily, such as air pollution (which is proven that it can generate lung cancer).
 

4- Is there exist non-sparking alloy without beryllium, and also completely non-magnetic?

Yes, bronze manganese (Mn-Bron). It is similar to Al-Bron physical properties, but the lack of iron in its composition, make it completely non-magnetic. However, it is not often used in the manufacture of hand tool because it provides significant advantages over common alloys, yet the cost is higher.
 

5- What alloy should be used in an atmosphere of acetylene?

Be aware, acetylene is a gas from IIC group, thus the common non-sparking alloys Cu-Be and Al-Bron have no capacity to generate sparks with enough energy to start the deflagration of the acetylene in the form of gas. However, acetylene is a substance which reacts with any alloy with copper composition higher than 65%, creating a new compound called copper acetylide, which is highly explosive. As both Cu-Be alloys and Al-Bron contain more than 80% of copper; they never must be used in acetylene environments. In this case if I had to choose between the two options, it is less dangerous to employ steel tools.

However, there is an alloy called ACETILEX® developed by EGAMASTER, which is safe, thank to its composition (less than 65% of copper) and a lack of potential to create sparks to initiate combustion of acetylene as a gas. It is the only completely safe alternative on the market for use in environments of acetylene.
 

6- And the tools of plastic-coated steel are safe?

They are not completely safe. Although they have less risk than normal steel tools because they reduce the likelihood of ignition by friction, they have the potential to create sparks with enough energy for igniting an explosive atmosphere, because they retain exposed steel parts for not being possible to coat the active parts. Therefore, they are called sparks reduction tools, not sparking.

Therefore, its use is not recommended for the following reasons:

a) Do not avoid the risk of explosion

b) The plastic coating is susceptible to become damaged further increasing the exposed areas

c) The standard EN 1127-1 prohibits the use of steel made tools made in most zones and groups of gas.