Watch out! Your body can be invaded, and you may not know it is happening. Toxic chemicals used in the workplace can enter the body in three primary ways: inhalation, absorption, and ingestion. All are to be avoided!
Breathing: The easiest, most common way for toxic chemicals to enter your body is through inhalation. Once inhaled, poisonous chemicals can be absorbed into your lungs and then into your bloodstream. Once in your blood, these
chemicals may be deposited or stored in your vital organs. At that point, serious damage may already be done! Carbon monoxide is a good example of an odorless gas that enters the body through the bloodstream and, at high levels, can kill a person within minutes.
Skin Contact: Chemicals can also be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. This is more likely to happen if your skin has been cut. The bloodstream carries these chemicals throughout your body and they may end up in your
internal organs, often causing serious damage. Substances that are readily absorbed through the skin include common solvents, fuels and thinners. In general, the absorption rate, or how quickly a chemical is absorbed through the skin,
increases with warmer temperatures and increased sweating.
Swallowed: Workers often unknowingly eat or drink toxic chemicals. Harmful dust, fumes or mists in the air may settle
on food, drinks, or cigarettes. Chemicals on your hands may also be transferred to your mouth. Once swallowed, these substances are absorbed by the stomach or intestines and enter into the bloodstream—finally coming to rest in vital
Without precautions, toxic chemicals have an easy time getting into your body. Once inside, your body’s defenses against these invaders are weak. You usually cannot completely rid yourself of harmful chemicals that get past body surfaces.
As a result, long-term exposures and chemical buildup in the body often result in serious health consequences. Don’t take chances! Protect yourself, by taking appropriate safety measures on the job:
Ö Be aware of the chemicals being used in your workplace.
Ö Always wash your hands before eating.
Ö Wear gloves and other protective equipment and clothing.
Ö Always use respirators when appropriate.