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

Factsheet #5 continued

Chronic Effects

“Chronic” is a word that means the ill effects will not be seen for some time after exposure.  It is associated with low concentration exposures over a longer period of time.

•  Cancer is a chronic effect, as is asbestosis.

•  Lung diseases, like bronchitis and emphysema, are examples of  noncancerous, chronic diseases.

•  Solvents can cause chronic damage to the liver, kidneys and brain.

Many chemicals can cause either chronic or acute effects.  The difference is in the amount of the dose.  High doses generally cause acute effects.  Low doses over time cause chronic effects.

•  Exposure to PCBs in large doses can cause a skin disease called chloracne.

•  Exposure to benzene over a long period of time can cause leukemia, a chronic effect.

•  Exposure to arsenic over a long period of time can cause lung cancer, a chronic effect.

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