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Used as a synthetic rubber adhesive, the material data safety sheet indicates that contact cement contains solvent naphitha, acetone, toluene, synthetic rubber, various resins and hexane as ingredients. With this combination of ingredients, contact cement meets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's definition of a hazardous material. The emergency overview warns it is an extremely flammable liquid with vapors that may cause a flash fire. Along with being flammable, there are other potential health effects from exposure to contact cement.
OSHA sets the guidelines that workers should follow to protect against harmful reactions when using hazardous materials. The potential effects of eye exposure to contact cement include irritation, redness, tearing and blurred vision. First-aid measures, when you get contact cement in your eyes, require that you flush them gently with water for at least 15 minutes. After this continuous rinsing, seek immediate medical attention or assistance.
With prolonged or repeated skin exposure to contact cement, a worker can experience dry skin with the additional symptoms of redness, burning, drying and cracking. Another potential risk to skin includes burns. The first-aid treatments for skin exposure include removing any contaminated clothing and washing the affected area with soap and water. If symptoms continue, get immediate medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before wearing it again.
Upon ingesting this product, gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting can occur. With vomiting, there is the increased possibility of aspiration of the cement into the lungs, which can produce a fatal condition of chemical lung inflammation. First-aid measures for swallowing contact cement include immediate consultation with a physician or poison control center, and keeping the person from vomiting. Do not leave the individual unattended or give him anything by mouth. If the victim falls unconscious or becomes drowsy, lie him on his left side with his head down.
Excessive inhalation of contact cement vapors can cause nasal and respiratory irritation, acute nervous system depression, fatigue, weakness, nausea, headache and dizziness. Immediately move the victim to fresh air and seek medical attention. Keep the victim warm and quiet, covering him with a blanket. Provide oxygen if breathing is difficult or labored. If the victim stops breathing, administer CPR.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, OSHA requires that business owners with 10 or more employees maintain a safe and healthy workplace. This includes training employees in the use of hazardous chemicals and personal protection equipment. Additionally, OSHA requires that employers provide MSDS binders for easy employee access and hang signage that indicates specific hazards. Employers must also maintain work-related injury and illness logs; employers who fail to comply with OSHA standards may be subject to fines and penalties.