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| Last Updated:: 01/04/2016

Toxic Materials

Toxic Materials

 

Toxic materials are substances that may cause harm to an individual if it enters the body. Toxic materials may enter the body in different ways. These ways are called the route of exposure. The most common route of exposure is through inhalation (breathing it into the lungs). Another common route of entry is through skin contact. Some materials can easily pass through unprotected skin and enter the body. Ingestion is another, less common, route of exposure in the workplace. Ingestion often occurs accidentally through poor hygiene practices (e.g. eating food or smoking a cigarette using contaminated hands).

 

Toxic materials are often used in the workplace. The table below lists some common workplace materials that meet one or more of the criteria to be considered "toxic" as well as some of potential health effects associated with that chemical. Keep in mind that toxic materials can also be found in consumer products that come into the home - always read the warning labels and safe use instructions before using any products.

 

Chemical Name

Potential Health Effects/Symptoms Associated with Toxicity
(Note: not a complete listing of symptoms

Methylene chloride

  • Mild central nervous system depressant. May cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination and confusion, unconsciousness and death.
  • Causes skin and eye irritation.

Isopropyl alcohol (2-propanol)

  • Mild central nervous system depressant. High vapour concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination, and confusion. Very high exposures may result in unconsciousness and death.
  • May be irritating to the respiratory tract.
  • Causes eye irritation.
  • Swallowing or vomiting of the liquid may cause aspiration (breathing) into the lungs.

Acetone

  • Mild central nervous system depressant.
  • Very high concentrations may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination and confusion.
  • Causes eye irritation.
  • Swallowing or vomiting of the liquid may result in aspiration into the lungs.

l-Limonene

  • Causes moderate skin irritation.
  • May cause allergic skin reaction.

Acetaldehyde

  • The vapour is irritating to the respiratory tract. May cause lung injury. These effects may be delayed.
  • Causes severe eye irritation.

Hydrogen peroxide (>35%)

  • May be fatal if swallowed.

 

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety