What is a hazardous chemical?

Danger Hazrdous ChemicalsA hazardous chemical is defined as: any element, chemical compound, or mixture of elements or compounds whose use could present a physical hazard or a health hazard. A physical hazard arises when use of a chemical is potentially dangerous due to the possibility of explosion, fire or violent reaction with other chemicals. A physical hazard may be a:

A health hazard is a chemical for which there is evidence that health effects may occur if employees are overexposed. A health hazard may be a:

The health effects caused by the above subcategories of chemicals may be acute or chronic. An acute effect is an adverse health effect that is the result of a short-term exposure to a high concentration of a toxic material. An acute effect is usually felt immediately or with reactions occurring within two to three hours of overexposure. In the case of highly toxic materials, death may result even with prompt medical care.

As examples, the immediate reaction may be:

  • Coughing, sneezing
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Coughing Sneezing Rash

    Rash, burns

A chronic effect is an adverse health condition that occurs only after exposure to a material for a long time, usually months or years. The amount of exposure is usually low and often symptoms are not immediately noticeable.

Examples of disease from chronic exposure would include:

There are four primary routes of entry a chemical can take to enter your body. These include:

Some chemicals or materials are exempt from the HCS because they are regulated by other agencies. These exemptions are:

  • Hazardous WasteChemicals which are disposed as hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulations to ensure the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste.
  • Hazardous WasteAny hazardous substance that is the focus of remedial or removal action (hazardous material clean-up project). This is also the EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction.
  • TobaccoTobacco or tobacco products that are intended for sale to consumers. These are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
  • Wood ProductsWood or wood products, unless chemically treated. Wood that has been preserved with a hazardous chemical is covered by the HCS.
  • ChairDeskArticles. An article is a manufactured item that does not have any properties of a hazardous chemical, even though hazardous chemicals may have been used in the manufacturing process. In other words, an article is a finished product that does not release toxic vapors, nor does pose a risk of fire or explosion.
  • Food or alcoholic beverages which are sold, used, or prepared in a retail establishment (such as a grocery store, restaurant, or drinking place), and foods intended for personal consumption by employees while in the workplace.
  • PillsDrugsDrugs regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This includes drugs in solid, finial form (e.g., tablets or pills); all drugs which are packaged for sale to consumers in a retail establishment (e.g., over-the-counter drugs); and drugs intended for personal consumption by employees while in the workplace (e.g., first aid supplies). Any drug which must be processed in the workplace and therefore poses a risk of employee exposure to hazardous liquids, vapors, or dust is not exempt form the HCS.First Aid
  • Cosmetics which are packaged for sale to consumers.
  • Consumer ProductsConsumer products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer products are hazardous chemicals which may be present in the workplace, but are not used as a part of routine work processes, and therefore do not result in health or safety risks beyond those which consumers would encounter.
  • DustNuisance particulates (dust) that do not pose a physical or health hazard.
  • RadiationIonizing and nonionizing radiation, and
  • BiohazardBiological hazards.

(source, http://ehs.uky.edu)


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