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August 13, 2010
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Potassium Hydroxide is an odourless, white or slightly yellow, flaky or lumpy solid which is often in a water solution. It is used in making soap, as an electrolyte in alkaline batteries and in electroplating, lithography, and paint and varnish removers. Liquid drain cleaners contain 25 to 36% of Potassium Hydroxide.
Health Hazard Information
Acute Health Effects
The following acute (short-term) health effects may occur immediately or shortly after exposure to Potassium Hydroxide:
Skin and Eye Health Effects
Contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes with possible eye damage.
Contact can irritate the nose and throat.
Inhalation Health Effects
Inhaling Potassium Hydroxide can irritate the lungs causing coughing and/or shortness of breath. Higher exposures may cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary oedema), a medical emergency, with severe shortness of breath. Exposure to Potassium Hydroxide can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
Chronic Health Effects
The following chronic (long-term) health effects can occur at some time after exposure to Potassium Hydroxide and can last for months or years:
According to the information presently available to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Potassium Hydroxide has not been tested for its ability to cause cancer in animals.
According to the information presently available to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Potassium Hydroxide has not been tested for its ability to affect reproduction.
Potassium Hydroxide can irritate the lungs. Repeated exposure may cause bronchitis to develop with coughing, phlegm, and/or shortness of breath. Skin allergy may occur with itching, redness and/or a rash. If allergy develops, very low future exposure can trigger symptoms.
Personal Protective Equipment
The OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Standard (29 CFR 1910.132) requires employers to determine the appropriate personal protective equipment for each hazard and to train employees on how and when to use protective equipment. The following recommendations are only guidelines and may not apply to every situation.
Gloves and Clothing
Avoid skin contact with Potassium Hydroxide. Wear personal protective equipment made from material which can not be permeated or degraded by this substance. Safety equipment suppliers and manufacturers can provide recommendations on the most protective glove and clothing material for your operation.
Safety equipment manufacturers recommend Butyl, Nitrile, Neoprene, Polyvinyl Chloride, Viton and Barrier® as glove materials for Potassium Hydroxide in solution, and Tychem® BR, Responder®, and TK, or the equivalent, as protective clothing materials for Potassium Hydroxide in solution.
All protective clothing (suits, gloves, footwear, headgear) should be clean, available each day, and put on before work.
For solid Potassium Hydroxide wear eye protection with side shields or goggles. Wear indirect-vent, impact and splash resistant goggles when working with liquids. Wear a face shield along with goggles when working with corrosive, highly irritating or toxic substances. Do not wear contact lenses when working with this substance.
Improper use of respirators is dangerous. Respirators should only be used if the employer has implemented a written program that takes into account workplace conditions, requirements for worker training, respirator fit testing, and medical exams, as described in the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
Where the potential exists for exposure over 2 mg/m3, use a NIOSH approved full facepiece negative pressure, air-purifying, particulate filter respirator with an N, R or P95 filter. More protection is provided by a full facepiece respirator than by a half-mask respirator, and even greater protection is provided by a powered-air purifying respirator. Leave the area immediately if:
While wearing a filter or cartridge respirator you can smell, taste, or otherwise detect Potassium Hydroxide,
While wearing particulate filters abnormal resistance to breathing is experienced, or
Eye irritation occurs while wearing a full facepiece respirator. Check to make sure the respirator-to-face seal is still good. If it is, replace the filter or cartridge. If the seal is no longer good, you may need a new respirator. Consider all potential sources of exposure in your workplace.
You may need a combination of filters, prefilters or cartridges to protect against different forms of a chemical (such as vapour and mist) or against a mixture of chemicals. Where the potential exists for exposure over 20 mg/m3, use a NIOSH approved supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece operated in a pressure-demand or other positive-pressure mode. For increased protection use in combination with an auxiliary self-contained breathing apparatus or an emergency escape air cylinder.
Workplace Controls and Practices
Very toxic chemicals, or those that are reproductive hazards or sensitizers, require expert advice on control measures if a less toxic chemical cannot be substituted. Control measures include:
Enclosing chemical processes for severely irritating and corrosive chemicals,
Using local exhaust ventilation for chemicals that may be harmful with a single exposure, and
Using general ventilation to control exposures to skin and eye irritants. For further information on workplace controls, consult the NIOSH document on Control Banding at www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ctrlbanding/.
The following work practices are also recommended:
Label process containers.
Provide employees with hazard information and training.
Monitor airborne chemical concentrations.
Use engineering controls if concentrations exceed recommended exposure levels.
Provide eye wash fountains and emergency showers.
Wash or shower if skin comes in contact with a hazardous material.
Always wash at the end of the work shift.
Change into clean clothing if clothing becomes contaminated.
Do not take contaminated clothing home.
Get special training to wash contaminated clothing.
Do not eat, smoke, or drink in areas where chemicals are being handled, processed or stored.
Wash hands carefully before eating, smoking, drinking, applying cosmetics or using the toilet.
In addition, the following may be useful or required: For solid Potassium Hydroxide, use a vacuum to reduce dust during clean-up. DO NOT DRY SWEEP.
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (2010) Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet Potassium Hydroxide retrieved from http://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1571.pdf on 2010-07-27
Further consultation on proposed amendments to the Schedule to the Act and the requirement to prepare and publish summary reports
In April 2010, NICNAS sought comment on two proposed amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the Act), namely:
a proposal to remove the requirement to prepare and publish summary reports for both new and existing chemicals: and
proposed amendments to the Schedule to the Act.
Five responses were received, in light of which NICNAS has refined some proposed amendments to the Schedule and the requirement to prepare and publish summary reports. Now, NICNAS is seeking further comment on the proposed amendments. Due to the timing constraints of the legislative process, please provide comment on these proposals to NICNAS by 16 August 2010. Further information can be found at: http://www.nicnas.gov.au/About_NICNAS/Reforms/Amendments_P_P_Summary_Reports_PDF.pdf
NICNAS, 19 July 2010 http://www.nicnas.gov.au
FSANZ invites public comment on food from GM cotton
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has invited parties interested in the regulation of food to provide information and comment on an application to approve a genetically modified food. The application is for a cotton variety that has been genetically modified to confer insect protection and herbicide tolerance. Until now, FSANZ has approved more than 40 such applications for food derived from GM crops. All submission should be made by Monday 16 August 2010. Application A1040 – Assessment - Food derived from insect-protected and herbicide-tolerant cotton line GHB119 Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has sought approval for the sale of food derived from a genetically modified (GM) variety of cotton (GHB119). This cotton variety is protected against feeding damage by Lepidopteran insect larvae and tolerant to herbicides containing glufosinate ammonium. FSANZ is required to conduct an evaluation of food safety and nutritional issues before this GM cotton can be used in the food supply. We have concluded that food derived from cotton GHB119 is as safe for human consumption as that derived from conventional cotton varieties, and intend to approve it for sale in Australia and New Zealand. Details of the Assessment Report for Application 1040 can be found on the FSANZ website.
FSANZ, 5 July 2010
China lowers dairy protein requirement to curb melamine
China has introduced a lower protein level for raw milk for dairy plants as a way of discouraging farmers from adding the industrial chemical melamine to bolster protein-test readings, health ministry officials said. Melamine, typically used in the manufacture of plastics, fertiliser and concrete, was widely found in the country’s milk products two years ago, resulting in the deaths of at least 6 children and causing hundreds of thousands of children to suffer from kidney disorders. Despite investigations and prohibitions against melamine use in dairy products, melamine-laced milk products are still being found, underscoring the persistence of food safety problems in China. Recently authorities seized 64 metric tons of milk powder and products containing the chemical in the northwest Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and suspected tainted powder also turned up in the country’s northeast, Xinhua news agency reported. Melamine’s high nitrogen content makes protein levels appear higher when added to milk or animal feed. The new minimum protein level for raw milk was lowered to 2.8 percent from the previous standard of 2.95 percent, health ministry officials said. The new standard is more realistic, in part because many dairy cows are fed with low-quality feed that leads to low protein levels, Wu Heping, secretary general of Heilongjiang Dairy Association, said at a health ministry news conference. “The 2.8 percent level is based on a lot of data collected after an investigation by the agriculture ministry and is most suitable for China’s current economic development,” said Wang Zhutian, a health expert at the conference. China has set a minimum level of the chemical in baby milk powder at 1 mg/kg and 2.5 mg/kg for other food products. Officials at the conference said that represents amounts that could be introduced by pesticide residue and packing materials.
Reuters Health, 14 July 2010 http://www.reuters.com/news/health
FDA Joins Other Feds on Tox21 Collaboration
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the National Institute of Health Chemical Genomics Centre (NCGC) welcome the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Tox21 collaboration. The Tox21 collaboration merges federal agency resources (research, funding and testing tools) to develop ways to more effectively predict how chemicals will affect human health and the environment. Established in 2008, the collaboration develops models that will be able to better predict how chemicals will affect humans. FDA will provide additional expertise and chemical safety information to improve current chemical testing methods. “This collaboration is revolutionizing the current approach to chemical risk assessment by sharing expertise, capabilities and chemical information, which will lead to both a faster and deeper understanding of chemical hazards,” said Paul Anastas, Ph.D., assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “Through the Tox21 collaboration, 2,000 chemicals have already been screened against dozens of biological targets and we are working to increase the number of chemicals to 10,000 by the end of the year.” There are tens of thousands of chemicals currently in commerce and current chemical testing is expensive and time consuming. “This partnership builds upon FDA’s commitment to developing new methods to evaluate the toxicity of the substances we regulate,” said Janet Woodcock, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research. FDA will collaborate with other Tox21 members to prioritise chemicals that need more extensive toxicological evaluation, and develop models that can better predict human response to chemicals. EPA contributes to Tox21 through the ToxCast program and by providing chemicals and additional fast, automated tests to NCGC. Currently, ToxCast includes 500 chemical screening tests that have assessed over 300 environmental chemicals. “Using the best science to protect human health and the environment is the ultimate goal of this collaboration,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the NTP. “The addition of FDA to this effort allows biomedical researchers and regulatory scientists to work together side by side to more rapidly screen chemicals and find more effective ways to protect the health of the public. The NTP is pleased to bring its toxicology and coordination expertise to bear on making Tox21 a reality.” A major part of the Tox21 partnership is the robotic screening and informatics platform at NCGC that uses fast, automated tests to screen thousands of chemicals a day for toxicological activity in cells. “Our robots screen in a day what would take one person a year to do by hand, allowing a fundamentally different approach to toxicology, which is comprehensive and based on molecular mechanisms,” said Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the NIH NCGC.
Environmental Protection News, 21 July 2010 http://www.eponline.com