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7.15.05
Science and Health:
Formula for Disaster?
More on This Story:
Chemical Safety Notes

How much can you really know about the potential chemical dangers in your local community? The Working Group on Community Right-to-Know is a DC based coalition of more than 1,500 public interest groups around the country working for more openness in government and industry. The Working Group's Web site publishes a list of industrial chemicals deemed "extremely hazardous" by the EPA. We have reproduced that list here with links to further information from the EPA and the state of New Jersey's Right-to-Know chemical database. Combined with NOW's state-by-state map of environmental and emergency services offices and a preliminary environmental checklist, you become more informed about chemicals in your environment.



ACROLEIN
Acrolein is a flammable and reactive liquid, colorless or yellowish, with an intense, disagreeable smell. It is used for making plastics, drugs, and tear gas. Contact can severely irritate and burn the eyes and skin. Breathing acrolein vapor can irritate the throat and lungs, causing coughing, severe shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Exposure can also produce dizziness, nausea, headache, and in higher concentrations may lead to unconsciousness and death. High levels or repeat exposure can cause permanent lung damage. Acrolein may cause mutations (genetic changes that can be passed on to future generations).

  • Acrolein Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Acrolein

    ACRYLONITRILE
    Acrylonitrile is a flammable and reactive liquid, clear or slightly yellowish in color, with a faint odor. It is used to make synthetic fibers and polymers. Acute exposure irritates the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. High exposure levels can cause weakness, headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and collapse. At the highest exposure levels fluid build-up in the lungs (pulmonary edema) may lead to death. Chronic exposure may interfere with the thyroid gland. Acrylonitrile is a probable human carcinogen.

  • Acrylonitrile Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Acrylonitrile

    AMMONIA
    Ammonia is a corrosive colorless gas with a strong odor. It is used in making fertilizer, plastics, dyes, textiles, detergents, and pesticides. Acute ammonia exposure can irritate the skin; burn the eyes, causing temporary or permanent blindness; and cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting. High levels can cause fluid in the respiratory system (pulmonary or laryngeal edema), which may lead to death. Chronic exposure damages the lungs; repeated exposure can lead to bronchitis with coughing or shortness of breath.

  • Ammonia Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Ammonia

    CARBON DISULFIDE
    Carbon disulfide is a flammable colorless or faintly yellow liquid with a strong, disagreeable odor. It is used in manufacturing viscose rayon, cellophane, carbon tetrachloride, and flotation agents. Acute exposure can severely irritate the eyes, skin, and nose, and can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, unconsciousness, and death. Chronic exposure can damage the developing fetus, and may cause spontaneous abortions in women and sperm abnormalities in men. Repeat exposures can also cause nervous system damage including tingling, weakness, and severe mood, personality, and mental changes that can be long lasting (for months or years).

  • Carbon disulfide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Carbon disulfide

    CHLORINE
    Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas with a strong, irritating odor. It is used in making other chemicals, as a disinfectant, in bleaching, and for purifying water and sewage. Acute exposure can severely burn the eyes and skin, causing permanent damage, and may cause throat irritation, tearing, coughing, nose bleeds, chest pain, fluid build-up in the lungs (pulmonary edema), and death. Chronic exposure can damage the teeth, and irritate the lungs, causing bronchitis, coughing, and shortness of breath. A single high exposure can permanently damage the lungs.

  • Chlorine Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Chlorine

    CHLORINE DIOXIDE
    Chlorine dioxide is a reddish-yellow gas or reddish-brown liquid used to bleach textiles, flour, and wood pulp, to treat water, and for other uses. Breathing chlorine dioxide gas can irritate the lungs, nose, and throat, causing coughing, nosebleeds, and chest pain. Higher levels may cause fluid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema) leading to death. Long-term or repeat exposure can cause cough, phlegm, and other breathing problems, and can lead to permanent lung damage.

  • Chlorine dioxide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Chlorine dioxide

    CHLOROFORM
    Chloroform is a colorless liquid used in making dyes, drugs, and pesticides. Acute exposure to chloroform can irritate and burn the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and cause dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, confusion, and irregular heartbeat which may lead to death. Chloroform probably causes cancer and may cause birth defects. Chronic chloroform exposure can damage the skin, liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

  • Chloroform Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Chloroform

    DIMETHYL DICHLOROSILANE
    Dimethyl dichlorosilane is a colorless liquid that is flammable and corrosive. It is used to make silicones. Direct contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes. Breathing dimethyl dichlorisilane can irritate the lungs, including fluid build-up (pulmonary edema) at high exposures.

  • Dimethyl dichlorosilane Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    EPICHLOROHYDRIN
    Epichlorihydrin is a reactive colorless liquid with a slightly irritating, chloroform-like odor. It is used to make plastics, resins, and glycerin. Acute exposure to epichlorohydrin vapor irritates the eyes, nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs. High levels can chemically burn the lungs or cause dangerous fluid build-up, which may lead to death. Eye contact may cause permanent damage, and skin contact can cause painful blistering which may be delayed in onset for minutes or hours. Chronic exposure can damage the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Epichlorohydrin is a probable human carcinogen and may decrease fertility in males.

  • Epichlorihydrin Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Epichlorihydrin

    ETHYLENE OXIDE
    Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas that is highly flammable, reactive, and explosive. It is used to make antifreeze, polyesters, and detergents, and is used for industrial sterilization. Acute exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and may cause shortness of breath, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, weakness, and loss of muscle control. Higher exposure levels may cause loss of consciousness, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), and death. Chronic exposure to ethylene oxide may cause cancer and birth defects, as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

  • Ethylene oxide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    ETHYLENEDIAMINE
    Ethylenediamine is a flammable and corrosive colorless liquid with an ammonia-like odor. It is used as a solvent, a stabilizer for rubber latex, and in antifreeze solutions. Breathing ethylenediamine can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, and contact can irritate and blister the skin, leading to recurrent skin allergy. High exposure may cause liver, kidney and lung damage, including lung allergy.

  • Ethylenediamine Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Ethylenediamine

    FORMALDEHYDE
    Formaldehyde is a flammable, colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating odor. It is used in manufacturing plastics and other chemicals, such as adhesive resins in particleboard, plywood, foam insulation, and other products. Acute exposure irritates and burns the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. Higher levels can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or spasm in the windpipe, either of which may be fatal. Chronic exposure may cause both an asthma-like allergy and bronchitis with symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath. Formaldehyde causes cancer of the nasal passages in animals and is considered a probable human carcinogen.

  • Formaldehyde Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Formaldehyde

    HYDROGEN CHLORIDE (HYDROCHLORIC ACID)
    Hydrogen chloride is a corrosive colorless to slightly yellow gas with a strong odor. It is used in metal processing, analytical chemistry, and in making other chemicals. Acute exposure to hydrogen chloride can cause severe burns of the skin and eyes, leading to permanent damage and blindness. Breathing hydrogen chloride vapor irritates the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs, causing coughing, shortness of breath, fluid build-up in the lungs (pulmonary edema), and possibly death. Chronic exposure damages the lungs and may erode the teeth.

  • Hydrogen chloride Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Hydrogen chloride

    HYDROGEN CYANIDE (HYDROCYANIC ACID)
    Hydrogen cyanide is a flammable and reactive pale blue liquid or gas with a bitter, almond-like odor. The gas is used in industry to kill rodents and insects. The liquid is used in making other chemicals such as acrylates and acrylonitrile. Acute exposure can irritate and burn the skin, eyes, and throat, and can cause dizziness, headache, and nausea. High levels can lead rapidly to convulsions or sudden death. Chronic exposure damages the thyroid gland and nervous system.

  • Hydrogen cyanide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Hydrogen cyanide

    HYDROGEN FLUORIDE (HYDROFLUORIC ACID)
    Hydrogen fluoride is a corrosive colorless fuming liquid or gas with a strong irritating odor. It is used in etching glass and in making other chemicals, including gasoline. Breathing the vapor causes extreme respiratory irritation (with cough, fever, chills, and tightness) that may be fatal. Contact can severely burn the skin and eyes, resulting in permanent eye damage or blindness. Long-term exposure may damage the liver and kidneys, and causes fluorosis, with symptoms of weight loss, malaise, anemia, and osteosclerosis.

  • Hydrogen fluoride Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    PHOSGENE
    Phosgene is a colorless gas, or a clear to yellow volatile liquid used in making pesticides, resins, polyurethane, dyes, and other chemicals. Phosgene is highly corrosive. Short-term exposure can irritate and severely burn the skin and eyes causing permanent damage. Breathing phosgene can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs; higher levels can cause fluid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a medical emergency. Repeated exposures to even very low levels can cause permanent lung damage (including emphysema, bronchitis).

  • Phosgene Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Phosgene

    PHOSPHOROUS TRICHLORIDE
    Phosphorous trichloride is a highly corrosive fuming liquid, colorless to yellow in color, with a pungent odor. It is used to help make many industrial chemicals and products, including pesticides (e.g., rat poison), plastics, chlorinated compounds, smoke bombs, fertilizers, and gasoline additives. Exposure can corrode and damage the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Contact during ordinary industrial use can cause death or permanent injury.

  • Phosphorous trichloride Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    PROPYLENE OXIDE
    Propylene oxide is a flammable and reactive liquid that is clear or colorless. It is used as a fumigant and in making lubricants, detergents, and other chemicals. Acute exposure can severely burn the skin and eyes. Inhaling the vapor can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, and cause difficulty breathing. Exposure can lead to headache, dizziness, and passing out. Propylene oxide is a probable carcinogen and a mutagen (capable of causing mutations in genetic material).

  • Propylene oxide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Propylene oxide

    SULFUR DIOXIDE
    Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas with a sharp pungent odor. It may be shipped and stored as a compressed liquefied gas. Sulfur dioxide is used in the manufacture of sulfuric acid, sulfur trioxide, and sulfites; in solvent extraction; and as a refrigerant, among other uses. Acute exposure irritates the eyes and air passages. High exposures to the skin and eyes can cause severe burns and blindness, and breathing high levels can lead to permanent lung damage and death.

  • Sulfur dioxide Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    SULFUR TRIOXIDE
    Sulfur trioxide is a corrosive colorless liquid that fumes in the air forming sulfuric acid vapor or mist. Its health effects in the air are essentially those of sulfuric acid (and are similar to sulfur dioxide and to oleum). Sulfur trioxide vapor can severely irritate and burn the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Eye damage can include blindness. Breathing the vapor can lead to choking, spasm, and pulmonary edema. Exposure can cause bronchitis, emphysema, and permanent lung damage.

  • Acrolein Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Acrolein

    SULFURIC ACID
    Sulfuric acid is an oily liquid that is highly corrosive. It is used in fertilizers, chemicals, dyes, petroleum refining, etching and analytical chemistry, and in making iron, steel, and industrial explosives. Breathing sulfuric acid mist can irritate the lungs; high levels can cause death through a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Contact can severely burn the skin and eyes. Repeat exposure can cause erosion and pitting of the teeth, stomach upset, nose bleeds, tearing of the eyes, emphysema, and bronchitis.

  • Sulfuric acid Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    TITANIUM TETRACHLORIDE
    Titanium tetrachloride is a colorless to light yellow liquid that has a penetrating acid odor. It is used to make titanium pigments, iridescent glass, artificial pearls, and as a catalyst in polymerization. Titanium tetrachloride is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Acute exposure can burn the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Chronic exposure can lead to chronic bronchitis, wheezing, and build-up of fluid in the lungs.

  • Titanium tetrachloride Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)

    TOLUENE-2,4-DIISOCYANATE
    Toluene-2,4-Diisocyanate is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a strong fruity odor. It is used to make polyurethane foams, elastomers, and coatings. Contact can irritate and burn the eyes and skin, and breathing vapor can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs, leading to coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. High levels can lead to fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Chronic exposure may cause concentration and memory problems. Toluene-2,4-Diisocyanate is a probable carcinogen.

  • Toluene-2,4-Diisocyanate Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Toluene-2,4-Diisocyanate

    VINYL ACETATE
    Vinyl acetate is a flammable and reactive colorless liquid with a sharp sweet odor. It is used in making polyvinyl resins. Acute exposure to vinyl acetate can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, and cause shortness of breath. High levels can cause fatigue, irritability and dizziness. Prolonged contact can blister and burn the skin.

  • Vinyl acetate Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • EPA Integrated Risk Management System: Vinyl acetate

    Reprinted with permission from Working Group on Community Right-to-Know Accident Data Site




  • Resources New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets
    National Library of Medicine Hazardous Substance Data Bank Environmental Protection Agency Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets

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