Our modern way of living would not be possible without the help of many industrial activities. From smelting metal, to complex biochemical reactions, they all help creating the goods and services we use. But there is a dark side: there are many hazardous substances used in industries and without proper care, they can endanger and destroy the local environments. Not to mention that workers are the first to be exposed. Find out the top dangerous chemicals used in the worldwide industry. Minimizing the exposure and the leakage risks must be done by applying certified Environmental Management Systems.
As you can easily imagine, workers in chemical plants are exposed to numerous risks. Risks include skin injuries and infections, skin cancers, allergies, asthma, chemical burns, reproductive problems, congenital defects, asphyxiation, injuries to internal organs, various types of cancers and death.
Ethylene oxide and formaldehyde are some of the most dangerous chemicals used in this industry. The first one is highly flammable and reactive. Prolonged exposure causes neurotoxicity, cancer, fertility problems and cellular mutations. Formaldehyde is commonly used in the chemical industry for producing resins. Exposure to high formaldehyde levels causes death. Long term exposure to low levels causes respiratory problems and eczema.
Workers in the metal production plants are also exposed to numerous hazards. There are many byproducts resulting from smelting and refining various metals and alloys. For example, coke ovens emit ammonium compounds, naphthalene, crude light oil, coke dust, sulfur and arsenic.
Cadmium is a byproduct of iron making. It is highly toxic and causes cancer. It affects respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, renal, and reproductive systems.
Methylene chloride: It is used in cleaning and removing grease from metals. Methylene chloride is considered by OSHA to be a potential workplace carcinogen. Inhaling it also causes cardiovascular and nervous system problems.
Hexavalent chromium has an extreme toxicity and it is carcinogen. Workers exposed to chromium pigments during soldering, welding, brazing or torch-cutting must wear proper safety equipment.
Petroleum industry is vital for our modern world. It produces plastics which are used almost everywhere and it also produces and refines fuels. Benzene is probably the most common chemical used in this industry. And unfortunately, it is also very dangerous. Even short-term exposure to a high concentration of benzene can be lethal.
Hydrogen sulfide is commonly used for refining oil and gases. It is heavier than air and when inhales, it can quickly cause death. Furthermore, it is highly flammable and has a “rotten eggs” characteristic smell.