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Global Occupational Health$
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Tee L. Guidotti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380002.001.0001

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Chemical Hazards

Chemical Hazards

(p.158) 9 Chemical Hazards
Global Occupational Health

René Mendes

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes common classes of chemical hazards and some specific chemicals that are important in occupational health: 1) the gases that make up the chemical asphyxiants have in common the characteristic that they interfere with oxygen or energy metabolism in cells. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that acts by binding to haemoglobin and preventing haemoglobin from delivering oxygen to tissues in the body. It is the most common cause of chemical poisoning because it is produced by combustion in fires where there is insufficient oxygen and in automobile exhaust. 2) Solvents are substances, usually liquids that readily dissolve other substances. In occupational health the term "solvent" usually refers to organic chemicals that dissolve oils. Their vapours may be inhaled or the main exposure may come from skin contact. Their toxic effects depend on the compound but have in common skin effects and effects on the brain, kidney and liver at varying doses. 3) Exposure to metals and the metalloids usually takes the form of inhaling metal-containing dust, inhaling fumes from molten metal or inhaling or ingesting salts of the element. Their toxicity varies. 4) Pesticides are biologically active chemicals designed to control insect, animal, and plant pests. Their toxicity varies widely and depends on the compound, of which the major functional classes are insecticides, including organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates, and herbicides.

Keywords:   chemical hazards, chemicals, asphyxiants, carbon monoxide, solvents, vapours, exposure, metals, metalloids, toxicity, pesticides

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