In everyday life, organic chemicals are commonly referred to as solvents, which are used to dissolve water-resistant solids. This group of solids includes paints, varnishes, plastics, rubber, rubber and other industrial materials. The substances acting on them are volatile liquids, according to the chemical classification, related to hydrocarbons (petroleum products and coke chemical compounds). They are widely used both in industry and in everyday life.
Solvent poisoning is quite common. How to avoid the sad consequences and correctly provide first aid to the victim? What safety measures must be followed when working with a hazardous substance?
To begin, let us examine what types of solvents are used in everyday life, and consider the degree of their danger to human health.
Kinds of solvents
Solvents are usually divided according to the degree of volatility. This indicator determines the rate of evaporation of the liquid. The higher the volatility, the more likely it is poisoning with organic solvents through the respiratory tract when working with a substance, even if it is slightly toxic. Conversely, it is easier to protect yourself from a solvent with a high degree of toxicity if it is a non-volatile liquid.
- Highly volatile solvents: acetone, chloroform, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, diethyl ether, ethyl and methyl alcohols (ethanol), toluene, benzene, ethers, trichlorethylene, dichloroethane.
- Low volatile: tricresyl phosphate, nitroparaffins, tetralin, decalin.
- Non-volatile: butyl alcohol (butanol), solvent naphtha, chlorobenzene, xylene.
The harm of solvents is in their effect on the skin, mucous membranes, on the internal organs when absorbed into the blood. Most organic solvents perfectly dissolve lipids - the fats that make up the shell of a living cell. The nervous system, lungs, liver and kidneys react most of all.
The danger of volatile organic compounds also lies in the fact that they are flammable and emit toxic gases during combustion, and if they accumulate a certain concentration of vapors in the air, they can become explosive.
From a household point of view, solvents are classified by toxicity thus:
- highly toxic, not recommended for use in everyday life - carbon tetrachloride and gasoline;
- substances that can be used only if there is good exhaust ventilation - chloroform, toluene, dimethylformamide, diethyl ether, dichloroethane, trichlorethylene;
- compounds that, subject to all precautions, can be considered as slightly toxic substances - acetone, ethyl alcohol.
Based on the chemical classification, esters, ketones, alcohols and petroleum products are classified as moderately hazardous substances. Chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons are classified as highly toxic compounds.
Symptoms of solvent poisoning
Most organic solvents penetrate into the lungs in the form of vapors, can be absorbed into the blood through the skin, irritatingly affects the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and respiratory tract. Almost all of them have a narcotic effect.
In case of solvent poisoning, the symptoms will be as follows:
- when exposed to vapors - irritation of the conjunctiva of the eyes, nasal mucosa, coughing and sneezing;
- in the stomach - abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling, vomiting with blood;
- incoordination, unsteady gait;
2-3 days after severe poisoning, serious liver and kidney diseases develop, manifested by pain in the area of the affected organs, jaundice, and impaired urination. Solvent vapors poisoning can lead to the development of bronchitis and pneumonia.
Inhalation of carbon tetrachloride vapors and dichloroethane develop strong lesions of the nervous, cardiovascular system, liver and kidneys. Death can occur within three days after poisoning.
If you notice signs of solvent poisoning, you should immediately begin first aid.
- Remove the victim to fresh air, provide him with access to oxygen.
- In case of solvent poisoning through the skin, first aid consists in removing the poison - it should be washed off with warm water and soap.
- In case of poisoning with petroleum products, it is impossible to induce vomiting, in other cases, if poison is ingested, it can provoke vomiting and flush the stomach.
- Give the victim to drink strong sweet tea, in any case not to give milk and vegetable oils - they increase the rate of absorption.
- Take any adsorbent - activated carbon, "Polysorb MP", "Enterosorb" and others.
- If toxic liquid gets into the eye, rinse with running water, apply a sterile dressing and consult a doctor.
- In case of violation of consciousness, put the victim on his back, turn his head to the side; make sure that the language does not fall.
At the slightest sign of nervous system poisoning - convulsions, impaired coordination, intoxication - call an ambulance! It is also necessary to consult a doctor if the solvent gets inside - the lethal dose of the substance is small and may be 20–100 ml.
The effects of solvent poisoning can be very diverse. In mild cases, all symptoms go away after a few days without a trace. But when large doses of these highly toxic compounds are ingested, serious diseases develop: toxic hepatitis, acute interstitial nephritis, nephrosis, bronchitis, pneumonia.
Treatment of solvent poisoning depends on the degree of damage to the internal organs.
Measures to remove poison from the body: gastric lavage through a probe, forced diuresis, hemodialysis.
- Restoring acid-base balance (combating acidosis) - intravenous fluids of glucose and sodium bicarbonate.
- Hepatoprotective measures - diet, injections of methionine and cysteine, vitamins, glucose with insulin.
- For disorders of the cardiovascular system - anti-shock treatment.
- When excited and convulsions prescribe neuroleptics - "Aminazin" and "Barbamil."
- Oxygen therapy.
Security measures when working with solvents
To prevent solvent intoxication, it is necessary to strictly observe safety precautions.
- Do not use highly toxic liquids in everyday life.
- Work outdoors or indoors with good ventilation.
Use chemical resistant gloves.
- Close the container with a lid after work is completed.
- Keep a wet rag nearby to wipe off any spilled liquid immediately.
- Work at arm's length, do not hold the jar close to your face.
- Keep solvents out of the reach of children, away from open flame sources, in a dark and cool place.
- Do not pour solvents into non-factory containers. If the label on the bottle is erased, mark the container again to avoid errors.
Let's summarize the above. Solvents can be of three degrees of toxicity: low, medium and high. Avoid working with highly toxic compounds. Signs of intoxication are headache, redness of the mucous membranes of the eyes and irritation of the respiratory tract, intoxication (drowsiness or irritability, gait disturbance, loss of consciousness). If the solvent gets into the gastrointestinal tract, there will be diarrhea, vomiting of blood, pain in the stomach.
What to do in case of solvent poisoning? If the poison got inside, you need to induce vomiting, take the adsorbent and laxative. In case of poisoning with vapors, the substance of the victim is removed from the contaminated zone and provides him with access to fresh air, is given strong sweet tea to drink. If you suspect severe poisoning, you need to consult a doctor, as symptoms of damage to internal organs can appear only 1-2 days after contact with the toxin.