The construction industry has a major challenge over decades which is as old as the profession itself. This challenge is the safety and health of the construction workers and employees. Lots of safety and health risks and hazards have been noted over years because of don’t use right safety equipment. These include Electrical hazards, Hazards from falls, hazards from noise, hazards from puncture of the foot, hazards from welding of metals and metal cutting, hazards from infra-red and other dangerous radiation, hazards from toxic and harmful chemicals. All the above have earlier been identified but as regards to chemical hazards, there is need for workers of construction companies to be updated on poisonous chemical hazards because some harmful chemicals are just newly discovered to be related to construction work. Earlier before now, we know of Asbestos, Lead and Silica as harmful chemical that must be prevented but we now have dangerous chemicals in form of dusts, fumes, gases and vapors. The potency of these chemicals are not in any way little as they cause severe health damages and problems such as poisoning, asphyxiation and cancer. They may also cause Neurological damage, birth defects, severe burns, respiratory problems, internal organ damage and disfiguration. I this article, I will discuss some of the hazardous chemicals and the way they get into our body system.
How Hazardous chemicals gets into the Body
These harmful chemicals gets into our bodies through inhalation and breathing, absorption through skin and ingestion or swallowing. Most of them are inhaled or breathe in while some like lead are deposited on something that we eat.
They are chemical or physical agents that are found at construction sites. The chemical agents include Zinc, Cadmium, Lead, Fluoride and lots more. Physical agents are the radiation and all sort that are detrimental to the body.
- Zinc: Zinc is used to make brass, galvanize metal and a component of useful alloys. Zinc fumes can be generated by cutting zinc-coated metal and welding. Being exposed to fumes of zinc metal can cause metal fume fever.
- Beryllium: this metal is a component of important alloys when it combines with copper and other metals. However, its fume is so dangerous that it causes chemical pneumonia. When exposed to it for long period, it can cause weight loss, chronic cough, and fatigue and body weaknesses.
- Cadmium: this metal is used as anti-rust coating and also a good metal to produce useful alloys. It is however very harmful when humans are exposed to it. Exposure to it may cause lung irritation, pulmonary edema and death. Longer exposure can cause kidney damage. Lots of construction workers are found to have become victims.
- Iron: iron is a basic component of a common alloy called Steel. Iron fumes are produced during welding and it causes nasal, throat and lungs irritation when humans are exposed to the fume.
- Mercury: this metal also serve as an anti-rust agents and also used to prevent plant growth on metals. Its vapor is produced after heating from arc or gas flames. Exposure to it can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, kidney damage and respiratory failure. When one is so much exposed to it, tremor and hearing impairment will be noticed.
- Lead: this is a major component of alloys. Any welding or cutting of alloy containing lead causes production of lead oxide fumes which when inhaled, causes brain damage and retardation, lead poisoning that affects circulatory system, reproductive system, kidney and muscles.
- Fluorides: Fluorides are present in fluxes used in welding. Exposure to the fluxes may result into irritation of the eye, nose and throat. Continued exposure cause pulmonary edema and bone damage and pain.
- Carbon monoxide: when the combustion of carbon is partial and not complete, the resulting gas is Carbon monoxide. During welding and cutting of metals, a considerable amount of carbon monoxide is generated and when inhaled can result into death because it may choke the breathing process by combining with human blood pigment.
Other very harmful chemical agents that can be generated from different construction practices include Chlorine compounds, Nitrogen oxide, Ozone etc.
For physical agents, the Ultra-violet light, Infra-red light and other intense lights within the visible spectrum are to be well guided against to reduce and prevent hazards and risks they can create.