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Chemical-induced effects on the human body are of infinite variety, depending on the chemical, the level of exposure, the length and type of exposure and the constitution of the victim. In addition, if exposure to more than one chemical occurs, the chemicals may together have a different and amplified effect than that which they would have singly (“Synergy”). The following is a list of possible hazardous properties of chemicals ;
Corrosive means that the chemical will burn the skin of other organs of the body to varying degrees. The burns can occur on the skin or deep in the tissue after the substance has been absorbed into the body. The substance may take the form of a vapour and be inhaled causing the burning in the respiratory tract or the lungs themselves.
Explosiveness is a well known property. It may result from an extremely rapid generation of gas or heat and may be triggered by a rise in temperature, a jolt, or mixing with another chemical.
Toxic means that the chemical has an effect on the body which interferes in some manner with the body’s ordinary functioning. Toxic substances are, in effect, poisons. The effects may be acute or chronic; the route of invasion may be through the skin, into the respiratory system, swallowed, or enter through the mucous membrane or the eye.
Flammable means that the substance will burn or explode when ignited at temperatures below 140°F. The actual temperature at which a substance will burn or explode is called its flash-point. Some substances such as Acetaldehyde, have their flash-point below room temperature.
Combustible means that the substance has its flash-point above 140°F.
Oxidizing means that the substance reacts, normally on the basis of it’s content of oxygen, with other substances to generate and instantly release energy. This release may be explosive or in the form of a fire or both.