Corrosives are powerful chemicals that are necessary for some jobs. Because you can’t always avoid using them, you must be aware of how to protect yourself from their hazards.
Before you use any corrosive product, read its safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS will tell you what is in the product. It will also tell you the product’s health hazards and physical hazards. The SDS will outline recommendations for safe handling procedures, personal protective equipment, first aid procedures, and other important information.
Corrosives are contained in common household products such as batteries or drain openers. They are also required for some of the operations in your workplace. Corrosives can be liquids, powders, pellets, or gases. Most have a strong, irritating odor. Reactions involving corrosives can display spattering and create heat and fumes.
Corrosives can be either acids or bases. It is always important to read the container’s label to identify a substance. There is another way to detect the presence of a corrosive. You can use a specially treated paper called litmus paper. Litmus paper turns red in the presence of an acid. It turns blue in the presence of a base. The pH scale defines the strength of acids and bases, with a value of 7 being neutral.
Corrosives can cause irritation and chemical burns. They can also be poisonous
Your skin and the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, mouth, and respiratory tract are targets for irritation and burning from contact with corrosives.
What do you feel when you come into contact with a corrosive? Some corrosives, especially acids, will cause a burning, irritating sensation, and some may be very painful. But, some corrosives may not cause any immediate pain even though they are still causing damage. When a base comes in contact with your skin, you may feel a slippery sensation instead of a burning irritation. Battery acid is another example of a corrosive that may not cause immediate pain if it gets on your skin.
Corrosive gases, fumes, or mists can irritate or burn the mucous membrane linings of the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. When this happens, the body produces fluids to try to protect the tissue. This can lead to a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), a life-threatening condition.
Many corrosives are toxic. They can get into your system through inhalation, absorption through the skin, or ingestion. Overexposure to toxic or highly toxic corrosives requires medical attention and could lead to a life-threatening condition.