(2) Asphyxiants -- keep the lungs from getting oxygen. They replace the oxygen in the air. Some
asphyxiants are methane and its related hydrocarbons, hydrogen and acetylene which are used in welding and
flame-cutting. A chemical asphyxiant like carbon monoxide gas interacts with blood in such a way that the blood
is unable to absorb enough oxygen to sustain the organs of the body, which causes the organs to fail.
(3) Anesthetics -- have a narcotic effect which depresses the central nervous system to a point where
respiratory failure may occur. All hydrocarbon vapors have this effect. The most narcotic are acetone, the ethers,
benzene, naphthas, gasolines, and jet fuels. Other anesthetics are hydrocarbon derivatives that contain members
of the chlorine family. Exposure to burning hydrocarbon vapors can cause tremors of the heart ventricles.
(4) Irritants -- inflame the lungs and respiratory tract. They may cause pneumonia and other
pulmonary diseases or make the victim more susceptible to them. Most flammable gases and vapors are irritants
whether they are poisonous, narcotic, or neither.
c. Liquids. -- Flammable liquid products can cause internal medical problems if swallowed. Even the
skin can become contaminated if direct contact with these products occur.
(1) Inside the body -- flammable liquids are dangerous if you get them in your mouth and may be
fatal if you swallow them. If you get petroleum in your eyes or mouth, flush them thoroughly and repeatedly with
water. Do not induce vomiting. Get medical help.
(2) On the skin -- flammable liquids also cause skin contamination. The seriousness depends on the
substance. Effects from gasoline, jet fuel, and solvents are less serious, but it must not be taken lightly. Fuels,
solvents, paints, lacquers, and varnishes dry up natural fats and oils on the skin. This leaves the skin harsh, dry,
and chapped, (a condition known as dermatitis). These unnatural skin openings or lesions increase your chances
of infection. If you get petroleum on your skin, wash it off at once with soap and water. If your clothes are
soaked with fuel, wet them with water before you take them off. If you do not have any water, temporarily
ground yourself by taking hold of a grounded piece of equipment, then take your clothes off. Grounding yourself
protects you from the danger of a static spark igniting your clothes as you remove them.
d. Fumes and Mist. The term "fume" is often used to mean the same thing as gas and vapor. It is more
correctly used to mean, to transform directly from a solid to a gaseous state or from the gaseous to the solid state
without becoming a liquid. This process is called sublimation.
e. Oxygen Deficiency. This means that the air you breathe lacks the normal amount of oxygen. This is
a health hazard when working with petroleum products. Normal air contains about 21 percent oxygen. Personnel
working in a concentration of only 17 percent will breathe a little faster and deeper. The flame of a safety lamp
goes out when the concentration falls to 16.25 percent. Life is in danger when the concentration level drops to 7