According to the Institute of Hazardous Material Management, a hazardous material is “any item that has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors.” Unless you are trained and have proper safety equipment, you should never try to dispose of hazardous material yourself.
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Fortunately, your body can tolerate a certain amount of hazardous material. If the chemical has entered the blood stream, the body recognizes “intruders” and sends them straight to the liver. The liver attempts to convert the harsh chemicals into less toxic substances and sends them to the kidneys, where they eventually exit the body.
Chemicals exit the body in different ways through sweating, exhaling, and urinating. It’s important to remember that the type of chemical and amount of time you were exposed to the substance greatly affects your risk for adverse health effects.
Exposure to Hazardous Products Through Food, Water, Soil, & Air
Many people believe exposure to hazardous material only occurs through physical contact. However, there are multiple ways people can be exposed to dangerous material:
Sometimes, food comes into contact with hazardous material during the transportation process. Other times, food such as fish is contaminated by harsh chemicals in the ocean. Unfortunately, you cannot tell by the appearance, taste, or smell of certain foods if it has been contaminated. If you eat contaminated food, you may get food poisoning.
Contaminated groundwater occurs when a hazardous material seeps into soil and into water channels. People can also be exposed by swimming in a contaminated lake or river. Recognizing contaminated water isn’t always easy. However, tell-tale signs that indicate the water is not safe to drink include a foul smell or change in color.
Hazardous material can often be embedded into soil. Many children are affected by harsh chemicals found in the soil because they play outside and have frequent hand-to-mouth contact. After contact with soil, be sure to wash your hands (and your child’s hands) thoroughly.
Breathing in chemicals is especially dangerous because the harsh material can enter your lungs. When you are around hazardous material, be sure to take necessary safety precautions.
First Environmental provides a 24/7 emergency spill response service. Please don’t hesitate to call us in the event of a hazardous waste spill!