Health Risks of Xylene: Sign Manufacturing
Xylene is a solvent used in the printing industry as a thinner for paints, inks, and adhesives. It is considered a very hazardous material due to the detrimental health effects it can have on people in both long and short term exposure. Also, it is important for any company using the material to know that it is hazardous both before and after its use.
Xylene has different effects that depend on the exposure intensity and time. Some of the different effects it can have on the human body include:
Eyes, Nose, and Throat
Irritation of the nose and throat can occur at approximately 200 ppm after 3–5 min. Accidental splash in the eye may damage the surface of the eye, which will heal within a few days.
Exposure to xylene at levels of 200 ppm or greater can irritate the lungs, causing chest pain and shortness of breath. Extreme overexposure (e.g., in a confined space) can result in pulmonary edema, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. However, there is no evidence that repeated, low-level exposure has any long-term effects on the lungs.
Liver and Kidneys
At very high levels of exposure, xylene can injure the liver and kidneys, but this is extremely unlikely to happen without noticeable effects on the nervous system. Generally, such damage is reversible. Low-level occupational exposure does not affect the liver and the kidneys.
There is no evidence that exposure to xylene affects the blood cells in humans. Earlier reports of low red blood cell counts (anemia) may have been due to contamination of xylene with benzene.
Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and gastric discomfort were observed in workers exposed to xylene vapors (unspecified concentration), which were reversible.
Xylene, like other organic solvents, can dissolve the skin’s natural protective oils. Frequent or prolonged skin contact can cause irritation and dermatitis, dryness, flaking and cracking of the skin. Damaged skin may allow greater absorption of chemicals. Xylene easily penetrates most ordinary clothing and can become trapped in ordinary gloves and boots. Xylene trapped in the clothing can cause burns and blistering.
Xylene has different effects on different parts of the body at varied time and intensity of exposures. But it is clear by the information above that Xylene is a dangerous chemical if not handled correctly by display companies who utilize it.
Mitigating this risk is essential to the well-being of employees. The best ways to try and prevent health implications of working with xylene are to have exhaust vents and proper ventilation that can remove the fumes from the area and proper protective equipment on employees working with the chemical. Utilizing these two risk management practices can help lower the likelihood off employees getting sick from xylene exposure.
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