chemical burn

There’s a lot of different chemicals out there. Everything is made of chemicals of one sort or another. Some popular examples include ammonia gas, ammonium formate, bromobenzene, carbonyldiimidazole, cyclohexanone, 1,1-dichloro-1-fluoroethane, diethylamine and its salts, 2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine and its salts, formamide, formic acid, lithium metal,
lithium aluminium hydride, magnesium metal, mercuric chloride, N-methylformamide, organomagnesium halides, phenylethanolamine and its salts, phosphorus pentachloride, potassium dichromate, pyridine and its salts, sodium dichromate, sodium metal, thionyl chloride, ortho-Toluidine, trichloromonofluoromethane, 1,1,2-Trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane.

Effects of chemical burns

As you can imagine, each of these chemicals can affect you in different ways, some will burn your skin if touch, some can damage your lungs if inhaled. Others might stain your skin. The best way to deal with any of these, in particular, is to check the instructions on its packaging. There’s always warning and emergency information there.

Sometimes you might think a chemical burn is only small, but sometimes it will penetrate your skin deeper than you realise and could be more harmful than you’d expect.

Effects of scratching on the brain

“For some people the irritation of an itch can be so intense that they scratch so hard they draw blood.”

Source: this report.

This is why a chemical burn can be so bad, even if it does not burn through your skin, it can lead to skin conditions that can be very annoying, or might do more damage than you expect.

Who to call when you get a chemical burn?

In Australia, any medical emergency or affliction should call 000 immediately and treat it as an emergency. You will need to tell them what chemical burned you (if you know). This will help identify if an ambulance is needed and how urgent this is. But don’t assume it’s fine until you’ve spoken to them. Triple zero is who you call. If it is a poison, you should call the Poisons Information Hotline¬†on 13 11 26 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Popular sources of chemical burns that these sources have to deal with include strong acids or strong bases, which can be found in products such as:

  • bleach
  • concrete mix
  • drain or toilet bowl cleaners
  • metal cleaners
  • pool chlorinators
  • phosphorous (found in fireworks and fertilizers)
  • petrol

Ways to prevent a chemical burn

Much of this should be common sense.

  • Wear gloves
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Wear face mask and goggles
  • Read the instructions
  • Store chemicals in a safe place
  • Do not let animals or kids around chemicals
  • Wash your hands after using
  • Store in original packaging with its label so it does not get confused with food or drink.

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