Skin Protection

The skin consist of cells and tissues made of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. When hazardous  chemicals touch your skin, they may react with these tissues, or be absorbed into one or more layer of the skin. The result could be irritation and rashes, chemical burns, and possibly permanent damage. When  absorbed, some hazardous chemicals can enter the bloodstream and collect in and damage organs like the  nerves, liver, and kidneys. And some chemicals can harm the red blood cells and other cells of the blood. A  condition in which the one becomes allergic to chemicals can also result from overexposure by absorption. Therefore, wearing gloves and other skin protection is important while handling hazardous chemicals in  the laboratory.

The CHP gives specific procedures to protect your skin when working in the laboratory. Before using a  hazardous chemical, select a glove that is resistant to that particular chemical. In most labs disposable gloves are available in the lab area and heavier rubber gloves can be obtained from the stockroom or lab instructor if a strong corrosive will be used.  Here is chart with information about protection from various gloves. (This chart takes a few moments to load, so please be patient.)

It is worth noting that aromatic and halogenated hydrocarbons will attack all types of natural and synthetic  glove material. Should swelling occur, the user should change to fresh gloves and allow the swollen gloves to dry and return to normal. If using one of these solvents, then whenever you leave the lab, remove the gloves to allow any absorbed solvent to escape. All gloves wear out after a period of time. Dispose of questionable gloves rather than risk injury.

Before using the gloves, check for rips, pinholes and defects by air inflation. However, do not blow into the gloves with your mouth. Use the air lines available in the lab. After working with toxic materials, rinse the gloves before taking them off. While removing the gloves, be careful not to contaminate yourself. The used decontaminated gloves should be disposed of immediately in the trash.

Another form of skin protection is the laboratory coat. Most lab coats are made of material that resist water and other liquids to some degree. The lab coats can protect your clothing from getting small holes caused by droplet of corrosive liquids. If you will be working with a strong corrosive, ask the stockroom manager for a rubber apron.

A common problem in the educational science laboratory is the wearing of open shoes like sandals or thongs. The feet should be covered completely to protect them from chemicals and broken glass. And under no circumstances should a person enter the laboratory bare-footed.

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