Toxic Compounds - h1015v2_104

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TOXIC COMPOUNDS DOE-HDBK-1015/2-93 Hazards of Chemicals and Gases CH-05 Rev. 0 Page 10 Absorption through the skin can occur upon exposure to some toxic agents. Some liquids and vapors are known to pass through the skin in concentrations high enough such that respiratory protection is not adequate.  For example, hydrogen   cyanide   (HCN)   is   known   to   pass   through   the   unbroken   skin. Consideration should be given to the type of work clothes being worn; if they become saturated with solvents, they will act as a reservoir to bathe the body continually with the harmful material. Most volatile (easily vaporized) organic compounds are eliminated from the body in a matter of hours or, at most, days.  Many of the poisonous elements, however, can be stored for long periods of time in various parts of the body.  Chronic (long term) toxicity damage is unlikely to have an even distribution throughout the body.  In toxicity studies with radioactive isotopes, the organ which suffers the most severe damage and appears to contribute most to the toxic effect on the body as a whole, is called the critical organ.  The particular organ that shows the largest amount of damage is the one that is chosen for estimating the effect. Industrial poisoning may be classified as either acute or chronic.  The classification is based on the  rate  of  intake  of  harmful  materials,  rate  of  onset  of  symptoms,  and  the  duration  of symptoms. Acute  poisoning  is  characterized  by  rapid  absorption  of  the  material  and  sudden,  severe exposure.  For example, inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide or swallowing a large quantity of cyanide compound will produce acute poisoning.  Generally, acute poisoning results from a single dose which is rapidly absorbed and damages one or more of the vital physiological processes.  The development of cancer long after recovery from acute radiation damage is called a delayed acute effect. Chronic poisoning is characterized by absorption of a harmful material in small doses over a long period of time; each dose, if taken alone, would barely be effective.  In chronic poisoning, the harmful materials remain in the tissues, continually injuring a body process.  The symptoms in chronic poisoning are usually different from the symptoms seen in acute poisoning by the same toxic agent. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires that the Health and Human Services publish at least annually, a list of all known toxic substances by generic family, or other useful grouping, and the concentrations at which such toxicity is known to occur.  Under the OSHA Act, the Secretary of Labor must issue regulations requiring employers to monitor employee exposure to toxic materials and to keep records of any such exposure. The  purpose  of  The  Toxic  Substances  List  is  to  identify  "all  known  toxic  substances"  in accordance with definitions that may be used by all sections of our society to describe toxicity. An excerpt of this list is illustrated in Figure 1.  It must be emphatically stated that the presence of a substance on the list does not automatically mean that it is to be avoided.  A listing does mean, however, that the substance has the documented potential of being hazardous if misused, and, therefore, care must be exercised to prevent tragic consequences.


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