Chemical Hazards

Chemicals are considered a hazard due to their intrinsic properties to cause harm to humans, property or the environment.

Some chemicals occur naturally, for example arsenic or radon gas, while others are manufactured for commercial or home use.  Examples of these chemical hazards are paints, varnishes, bleaches and diesel.


Chemical hazards can be presented by substances that are:

–  used directly in work activities (for example, adhesives, paints, cleaning materials)

–  generated during work activities (for example, fumes from soldering and welding).

The level of harm caused depends on the route and the speed of entry into the body.

Chemical can harm a person's health by entering the body by:

–  absorbing through the skin

–  ingestion through the mouth

–  inhalation to the lungs

Once a chemical hazard has entered the body, examples of harmful effects are:

–  diseases of the skin

–  diseases of the respiratory system

–  cancer and birth defects

–  asphyxiation

–  disorders of the central nervous system

–  damage to specific organs

–  blood poisoning.

–  Some substances can cause harm from a single exposure of short duration (acute effect), while some can cause harm that will only be apparent after prolonged and/or repeated exposure (chronic effect).