We can't stress enough that chemicals are harmful to human health. They are real foreign bodies with serious health risks, depending on the degree of exposure. They are becoming increasingly present in our daily lives.

This applies to anthropogenic (man-made) products such as medicines, cosmetics and cleaning products. Everywhere we go, we come across chemicals! It’s vital to take care though since some of them can, with prolonged or unsupervised use, cause a lot of damage.

They’re everywhere; in the water, air and even in our food. Can we even really determine what effects they have on our bodies? 

The effects of chemical products on the body

Using chemical products often results in health effects. These effects may arise due to:

1.    Recurrent exposure even in small doses, which can trigger chronic intoxications. The common effects of this are: asthma, eczema, cancer, kidney failure, fertility problems, etc.
2.    Short-term exposure, which has an almost instantaneous effect on our bodies. This is known as an acute intoxication. The best-case outcomes of this are usually burning, irritation, itching, or vomiting. The worst-case outcomes include drunkenness, loss of consciousness, convulsion, coma, respiratory or cardiac arrest, etc.

Chronic effects

Regarding a chronic intoxication, we are faced with what can be called “treacherous” effects. These can appear several years after exposure to chemical substances. The illnesses caused by these toxic substances often appear years, even tens of years later, as is the case for occupational cancers.

As you can probably tell, most of the time, this type of intoxication leads to the development of severe and chronic illnesses, such as asthma and eczema. However, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the more severe, undetectable consequences such as infertility.

Acute effects

The effects resulting from an acute intoxication on the other hand are instantaneous and often very aggressive. These immediate effects generally appear following repeated chemical exposure or misuse of household chemical products or those found at the workplace.

Moreover, the effects of acute intoxication are localized to a particular part or lesion of an organ and make themselves visible through severe and instantaneous reactions.

These localized effects are directly linked to ingestion or contamination of the chemical product. They usually cause serious respiratory, nervous or cardiac damage which can quickly lead to death in the most unfortunate of cases.

Safety risks of chemical products

There is no doubt that some chemical products are harmful, but what about from a safety point of view? The risks associated with the use of these substances can be severe. Specialists are sometimes required to intervene to prevent the spread of the chemicals or to bring a chain reaction to a halt. It is therefore important to follow the appropriate protocols when using them.

Several health and government organizations have committed to promoting the use of these chemicals but demand that the companies that use them take preventive measures and train their employees. Feel free to consult the WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System). It’s very useful to gain knowledge on the risks of chemical use.

Fire and explosion hazards

Who hasn't heard of or seen those television series where a fire breaks out in a chemistry laboratory? Cliché you may say, but it is more real than you think. Indeed, the chemicals we handle can play a role in starting a fire. All it takes is for a volatile product to be present in the air or for a clumsy mixture to be made, and within a few seconds an open fire starts up.

Please note that depending on the flammable product, the extent of the fire may vary. Therefore, be sure to read the instructions on hazardous product labels to see if there is a warning on them and to have an emergency number nearby in case of a fire. The risks on the body include the inhalation of toxic fumes, burns and asphyxiation.

Explosions should also be taken into consideration. Being more violent, they can cause powerful and dramatic damage. This often happens when there are flammable gases, fumes and dust present. We also advise you to take precautions when dealing with unstable compounds.

Dangerous chemical reactions

Not only can the mixing of chemical agents cause fires, but it can also lead to a multitude of dangerous reactions. Combining components that don’t react well together can lead to heat generation, friction, shocks, the emission of toxic gases, explosions or the projection of hazardous materials. The results are evident through the fumes and sparks that appear.
Our environmental waste management company promotes preventive measures and advises you to follow official guidelines, to consult our blogs on chemical use or to contact specialized companies in order to follow a specific procedure when using these substances. You can also establish emergency response protocols within your company or at home.

Measures to take to reduce the risks of chemical exposure

Act sensibly on a daily basis without coming into contact with these aggressive chemical substances for too long.

Why not change or clean your pipes from time to time without using products full of pesticides? You should also read instructions carefully when using chemical products (household or not). It’s also good to open your windows and air out your living spaces during chemical use. Finally, make sure to wear the necessary safety equipment (gloves, goggles, coveralls and mask) to avoid direct contact if it’s essential to use chemicals.

If you’re looking for a decontamination service or want to find out more on the topic, EBI Enviro Urgence will be happy to answer all your questions