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Preventing Chemical Accidents:  Understanding MSDS’s & Assessing Chemical Hazards

Factsheet #2

Chemical Hazard Awareness

There are four basic ways that chemicals can enter your body:

•  Direct contact - on the skin or eyes

•  Absorption - through the skin

•  Accidental Ingestion - through the mouth

•  Inhalation - through the lungs

Direct Contact = Surface

The chemicals we work with can burn or irritate the skin and eyes on contact, causing damage on the surface.  Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye membrane) are two examples.  

Absorption = Penetration

Some chemicals can pass right through the skin undetected and enter the bloodstream.  They are carried throughout the body, causing harm.  Broken skin or puncture wounds greatly increase the rate at which chemicals are absorbed.  

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