Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Chemical Exposure!

  1. May 20, 2010 #1
    Hi,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this! I'm student chemist (only 21), and last week I got exposed to alot of methyl iodide when I spilt some dissolved in DCM onto my hand, although I was wearing nitrile gloves I think the chemical passed straight through, I had some skin irritation the next day. Now, after reading up so much about MeI, I'm paranoid that I'll get cancer. Am I being reasonable in worrying about getting cancer because of this exposure?

    I seen a doctor, he says it's extremely unlikely, but isn't it also extremely unlikely that someone would have this sort of accident?

    Many, many thanks,

    John
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2010 #2

    chemisttree

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You shouldn't be using nitrile with DCM. Nitrile is not an effective barrier for it.

    Lucky for you that MeI might not be that bad an actor. It is only classified A2 (suspected human carcinogen) by ACGIH and is not classified a human carcinogen by IARC. Still, it doesn't hurt to be more careful.

    Your lab needs to get a handle on PPO if you intend to work with DCM. Use http://www.labsafety.com/Ansell-PVA-Gloves_24530219/" for DCM.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  4. May 20, 2010 #3
    Methyl iodide is a common reagent. Any kind of halide causes irritation/inflamation. Now if were hydrofluoric acid that touched you I would be drinking milk like theres no tommorow.
     
  5. May 20, 2010 #4
    Have you ever been exposed to this, or know anyone that has and hasn't got cancer? I mean, like, dermal exposure?

    Should the nitrile gloves stop DCM getting through for like 10 seconds perhaps?
     
  6. May 20, 2010 #5
    How much are we talking about here exactly? A 1 L bottle, 100 mL?
     
  7. May 20, 2010 #6
    I would estimate about 10-15 mls of this mixture fell onto my gloves (which stayed on my hands for like 5-6 seconds). The mixture had about 10% pure MeI, the rest was DCM.
     
  8. May 20, 2010 #7
    Relax then. Don't get too worried about 1 mL of methyl iodide. You're bound to have slip ups every once and a while. Just be cautious when using hazardous stuff, read the MSDS before you work with something (useful info in there) and avoid hydrofluoric acid.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2010
  9. May 20, 2010 #8
    It obviously got through my skin if my skin was red and irritated :(

    But you think the risk is small?
     
  10. May 20, 2010 #9

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Your chances of getting hit by some car today when you will be going home are probably still higher then dying of cancer because of that spill.

    Relax and concentrate, don't let that car kill you just because you are preoccupied with fear - you will increase number of methyl iodide victims.
     
  11. May 20, 2010 #10
    But are you aware of the toxicity of this deadly compound? :(
     
  12. May 21, 2010 #11

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    As you were told - it is not as deadly as you seem to be thinking. You already did what you should - you have visited your doctor. Good decision. Now there are three other things to do. First one - accept what you have been told by everyone - you are on the safe side. Second one - make resolution to be less clumsy in the lab (not that it will work, how many times did I tell that to myself...). Third one - open a beer and watch some movie that puts you in a good mood. Stop worrying, it makes you look ugly and live shorter.
     
  13. May 21, 2010 #12
    Thanks Borek, I really appreciate your response. As a chemist surely it's not un-normal to have a few sleepless nights worrying about the toxicity of various chemicals, espicially if you're young and inexperienced?
     
  14. May 21, 2010 #13

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Dangers that most of the chemists deal with are overrated. Sure, there are substances that should be treated with extreme caution, but accidental & temporary exposition to small amounts of most of the chemicals used in labs is not dangerous. It doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention or ignore risks, but loosing a sleep is overreacting.

    I don't blame you. We live in a world where fear mongering and media hype make most people chemophobic.
     
  15. May 21, 2010 #14

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It should be standard practice to consult an MSDS to educate yourself of the hazards *before* you work with a chemical. A good MSDS will mention what PPE you need.

    Since MSDSs go by different names in different countries, here's the wiki -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Material_safety_data_sheet
     
  16. May 21, 2010 #15
    I guess so. Have you had any chemical exposures in the past that worried you?
     
  17. May 21, 2010 #16
    Of course I always do this. But it was spilled on my hand through no fault of my own.
     
  18. May 21, 2010 #17

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Worried? No. Exposure? On many occasions. Acids, bases, solvents, reagents. Including story described here. Part of the mixture reaction landed on my face. It tasted like Lugol's solution.

    Now, it was almost 30 years ago and I have no doubts our labs were much less safe than they are today. We were in lab coats and at some more dangerous moments in glasses, but we were pipetting everything by mouth and gloves were unheard off. Still, during about ten years I have spent at the University the most serious accident I remember was when a friend of mine burnt (burnt? scalded? not sure about the correct word) himself with a phosphoric acid. That left nasty scar on his arm. I have not heard about anyone of my fellow students getting ill and dying because of the exposure to chemicals, so obviously even at this relatively low level safety regime chemistry wasn't that dangerous.
     
  19. May 21, 2010 #18
    Ouch. So I take it you use gloves and googles today? Did you have fumehoods back then? :S

    Speaking on gloves, do you use nitrile gloves?
     
  20. May 21, 2010 #19

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We had fume hoods and reaction was done in one. I though I have the dangerous part behind, so I opened the hood. I was wrong.

    I no longer work as a chemist. Only gloves I use are to keep my hands warm in winter. Without gloves I could serve a large lab - I have ten cold fingers.
     
  21. May 21, 2010 #20

    chemisttree

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    :rimshot: :rofl:

    Don't use nitrile with DCM. It just doesn't work.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook