Toxic Substance

Definition - What does Toxic Substance mean?

A toxic substance is a poisonous agent or chemical that poses detrimental health effects to the body. Many individuals are exposed to a variety of toxic substances on a consistent basis, whether by use at home and/or work exposures. A number of variables contribute to dangerous toxins affecting people including age, exposure duration, general health, pregnancy, and alcohol consumption. Many chemicals induce acute or chronic health effects such as irritation to the nasal passages, skin and/or eyes (acute), or the development of cancer (chronic) over time.

WorkplaceTesting explains Toxic Substance

Toxic substances can enter the body by ingestion, inhalation, or direct physical contact through the skin. Chemical products can present different health problems depending on factors such as potency, ambient concentration (dose), body size composition (adult, child), and means of entry. For individuals exposed to multiple substances, identifying a single hazardous cause can be difficult, particularly if chronic exposure is involved. For this reason, epidemiological symptoms can be delayed from the point of initial contact until a health condition forms, also called the latency period.

Exposure to certain chemicals can result in temporary or permanent health effects. Toxins that enter lung tissue such as asbestos, for instance, can pass into the blood distributing carcinogens to other organs and compromising systemic health. Although asbestos exposure may cease for an individual, cancer cells continue to proliferate and spread in the body long after the exposure.

Toxic substances can be contained by implementing safety guidelines for workplace personnel to follow at all times. It is mandatory that employers uphold a safe work environment by limiting or preventing the spread of toxic substances beyond restricted areas. Common control methods can include Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) with hazardous chemicals, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), warning label attachments on all containers/receptacles, and installment of ventilation units.

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