As everybody runs to pitch in at ground zero in the Gulf, I want you all to be aware that there are manifold issues related to working in and around high VOC environments. VOC is an acronym for Volatile Organic Compound.
Levels of VOC’s vary greatly depending on atmospheric conditions and combinations of additional toxins, both natural and man made, which can have potentially serious long term effects.
One thing people may not be aware of, is that your skin and your eyes are actually also very effective systems whereby toxics can enter the blood stream. If you get contaminent on the skin use a very low VOC solvent to remove it. Cleaning agents such as Dissolve It (Citrus based) or vegetable oil, followed by¬† soap scrub, safely remove contaminents without assisting them into your blood stream.
Should you taste contaminent in your saliva, you have it in your blood stream. Many VOC’s can and will be processed by your body’s filter organs. But when you taste it, your organs are being impacted. You will also notice a change in your body odor, as your system attempts to rid the toxins via the respiratory path
Here are a couple recent articles related to the Gulf Coast cleanup efforts
Wear a respirator that is properly fitted for your face. Respirator cartridges have an exposure limit time based on volume passage and contaminent levels. One telltale that your respirator is in need of a cartridge change is that if when you go to place the mask on, it smells of contaminent.
Keep your respirator in a well sealed ziplock bag when not in use.
Regularly remove the cartridges on your mask and clean the mask using a cotton swab and alcohol. Air dry, reinstall cartridges.
A link for treatment of airborne contaminent illness.
The basic rule of thumb when working in hazardous environments is to stay clean.
Certain toxins can accumulate in a biosystem over time, pre disposing the creature to various maladies that range from respiratory irritation, right down to various cancers and other serious ailments.
So no matter how benign one thinks a situation is, be aware that things can go from reasonably safe to hazardous, in the space of a wind or current shift. Be prepared. One would not go in to space without proper training and equipment.
Never enter a hazardous material environment without BOTH in place. No matter what anybody says, you must be the steward of your own health and safety while in the field.
Hmm. Black Tide. That gives me an idea.
Tags: beach cleanup, Black Tide, environmental imagery, field safety for cleanup workers, Gulf Coast, Hazardous materials, Hazmat, K38 Ocean Safety, K38 Rescue, OIl spill, oil spill cleanup, safety equipment, USCG, VOC, volunteer