The most important factor in toxicity is the chemical structure of a substance (i.e., what it is made of), what atoms and molecules it contains, and how they are arranged. Substances with similar structures often cause similar health problems. However, slight differences in chemical
structure can lead to large differences in the type of health effect produced. For example, silica in one form (amorphous) has little effect on health and is allowed to be present in the workplace at relatively high levels. After it is heated, however, it turns into another form of silica (crystalline) that causes serious lung damage at levels 200 times lower than amorphous silica.
Any chemical, in either gas, liquid, or solid form, that has the potential to cause harm is referred to as a hazardous or dangerous chemical.
A variety of chemicals may be stored onboard and used for cleaning or servicing the boat. For example, petrol, diesel, LPG, hydraulic oils, grease, degreasers, paints, thinners, and chemicals to treat Melanosis or blackspot in prawns may all be used.
In addition, certain chemicals may be generated such as fumes during welding, dust during sanding or grinding, carbon monoxide gas from a poorly vented engine exhaust, or hydrogen sulfide from rotting fish.
Some of these chemicals, if you are exposed to them, maybe dangerous to your health. Some chemicals may also have physical-chemical hazards, e.g. flammable, explosive, or have additional hazards if they are mixed or stored with incompatible chemicals. Chemicals can also have an adverse effect on the environment if they are used, stored, or disposed of incorrectly.
Chemicals can enter the body via:
- Inhalation: breathing in the chemical.
- Absorption: through skin contact or a splash in the eye.
- Ingestion: via contaminated food or hands, or
- Injection: when a sharp object such as a hook or needle punctures the skin.
Chemical Safety Quiz
- Types Of Chemicals
- Eight Tips for Chemical Safety
- How to Control Chemical Hazards
- The Hierarchy Of Control For Chemical Safety
- Chemical Effects and Their Routes of Entry
- Types of Containers and Labels
- Typical Chemical Hazards Present On A Construction Site