How can I prevent health problems from working with chemicals

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To reduce the health risks from working with harmful chemicals, try to:

  • avoid getting chemicals on your skin. When using chemicals at home, use rubber kitchen gloves (or plastic bags). When using chemicals at work, including farming, use thicker gloves and wear shoes. Otherwise, chemicals can get into your body.
  • wash your hands after touching chemicals. If you have been using strong chemicals, like pesticides, change your clothes and wash yourself before eating or coming into the house. Use rubber gloves when you wash these clothes.
  • avoid breathing in fumes (vapors) from chemicals. Work where fresh air flows freely. A cloth or paper mask will not protect you from breathing in chemical fumes.
  • keep chemicals away from food. Never use chemical storage containers for food or water, even after they have been washed. A container that looks very clean can still have enough chemical to poison the food or water. Do not use sprays near food or on a windy day.

If a chemical gets in your eye, flush it immediately with water. Keep flushing for 15 minutes. Do not let the water get into the other eye. If your eye is burned, see a health worker.

Keep chemicals away from children. Always look for poison warnings on the label.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en030114