Glossary of Chemicals

Alcohol - A class of generally colorless, flammable and/or combustible liquids. Uses include solvent, fuel, cleaning fluids, detergents, and antifreeze. Hazard: Restricted function/ damage to central nervous system and liver, vision impairment, flammable.

Argon - A colorless, odorless element. Uses include shield in arc welding, furnace brazing, electric and specialized light bulbs and for use in geiger-counting tubes, and lasers. Hazard: May cause dizziness and drowsiness and rapid suffocation. In liquid form, is extremely cold and may cause frostbite.

Asbestos - A group of impure magnesium silicate minerals which occur in fibrous form. Includes the forms chrysotile and tremolite. Uses include fireproofing, insulation, reinforcing agent in rubber and plastics and paint filler. Hazard: Restricted pulmonary function, dyspnia, fibrosis, confirmed human carcinogen producing lung tumors.

Benzene - A colorless to light yellow liquid with an aromatic odor derived from production of gasoline. Used in the production of styrene, synthetic detergents, insecticides, fumigants, solvents, paint removers, rubber cement and antiknock gasoline. Hazard: Confirmed human carcinogen producing myeloid leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and lymphomas by inhalation, a dangerous fire hazard when exposed to heat or flame.

Beryllium - A hard brittle, gray-white metal. Resistant to oxidation at ordinary temperatures. Used in computer parts, x-ray tubes, gyroscopes and rocket fuel additive. Hazard: Highly toxic, especially by inhalation of dust. Long term exposure may cause weight loss, weakness, cough, extreme difficulty in breathing and cardiac failure.

Botulin - Bacteria responsible for botulism, an extremely severe form of food poisoning due to the neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum sometimes found in imperfectly preserved or canned foods.

Carbon Dioxide - A colorless, odorless gas. Used in refrigeration, carbonated beverages, fire extinguisheing, aerosols, and medicine. Hazard: Asphyxiant, can increase respiration and heart rate, May cause dizziness and drowsiness.

Carbon monoxide - A practically odorless colorless gas. Derived as a by-product of internal combustion engines. Hazard: When inhaled, enters the blood, attaches to hemoglobin so that it cannot accept oxygen causing chemical asphyxia.

Chromium - A hard, brittle, semi-gray metal. Uses includes alloys and plating element on metal and plastic substrates for corrosion resistance. Protective coating for automotive and equipment accessories. Hazard: Chromium compounds are suspected of producing tumors of the lungs, and nasal cavity. Corrosive action on the skin and mucous membranes. If exposure continues, perforation of the nasal septum may result.

Copper - A metal with a distinctive reddish color. Uses include electric wiring, a necessary trace element in human diet because it aids in the formation of bones and blood, plumbing, heating, chemical and pharmaceutical machinery. Hazard: Human systemic ingestion include nausea and vomiting.

Helium - A colorless, nontoxic, noncombustible gas. Uses include welding, leak detection, chromatography, geological dating, diving. Hazard: Simple asphyxiant.

Hydrogen - A nontoxic, non corrosive gas. Uses include production of synthetic ammonia and methanol, production of hydrochloric acid, and refining petroleum. Hazard: Highly flammable and explosive, simple asphyxiant.

Hydrogen cyanide - A water-white liquid with a faint bitter almond odor. Used to manufacture acrylonitrile, dyes, and as a fumigant for orchards and tree tops. Hazard: Chemical asphyxia.

Hydrogen fluoride (Hydrofluoric acid) - A colorless, liquid. Used to polish, etch and frost glass, also used in the production of aluminum, brass, stainless and other alloy steels. Hazard: Highly corrosive to skin and mucous membranes. Highly toxic to by ingestion and inhalation.

Hydrogen sulfide - A colorless gas with rotten eggs odor. Used to purify hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, and to manufacture elementary sulfur. Hazard: Chemical asphyxia.

Lead - A heavy, ductile, soft gray metal. Relatively impenetrable to radiation. Uses include storage batteries, cable covering, ammunition, pipe, solder and alloys, paint base. Hazard: Long term exposure damages the blood-forming bone marrow and the urinary, reproductive, and nervous systems.

Manganese - A brittle, silvery metal associated with iron ores. Uses include steel manufacture, improved corrosion resistance and hardness and an essential element for plant and animal life. Hazard: Prolonged inhalation of fume or dust is damaging to the central nervous system. Dust or powder is flammable.

Methane - A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Used as a fuel and for the production of methanol, acetylene, chloroform, methylene chloride and methyl chloride. Hazard: Simple asphyxiant, severe fire and explosion hazard.

Molybdenum - A gray metal or black powder. Used as an alloying agent in steels and cast iron, pigments for printing inks, paints, and ceramics and hair dye. Essential for life. Hazard: Flammable in form of dust or powder. Acute exposures may include severe gastrointestinal irritation with diarrhea, coma, and death from heart failure.

Nickel - A malleable, silvery metal with excellent resistance to corrosion. Used in the production of alloys, electroplating, alkaline batteries, and ceramics. Essential element for life. Hazard: Ingestion of may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Hypersensitivity to nickel is common and can cause allergic contact dermatitis, pulmonary  asthma, and conjunctivitis.

Nitrogen - A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas constituting about 4/5 of the air we breathe. Used in the production of ammonia, acrylonitrile, quick-freezing foods, cryogenics, inflating tires. Hazard: Simple asphyxiant.

Ozone - A blue gas with pungent odor. Uses include purification of drinking water, industrial waste treatment, bleaching waxes, textiles, hormone and steroid manufacture. Hazards: Eye, mucous membrane irritant, may cause pulmonary edema and chronic respiratory disease, dangerous fire and explosion hazard.

Phosgene - A colorless to light yellow gas. Uses include pesticide and herbicide manufacture, dyes, production of isocyanates, and organic carbonates. Hazards: Highly toxic, symptoms include burning eyes, vomiting, and chest pain.

Phosphorus - A nonmetallic white, yellow, red, or black rock. Uses include pyrotechnics, rodenticides, additive to semiconductors. Hazard: Ignites spontaneously at 86º F. Irritant to eyes and respiratory system. May cause anemia, swelling, skin burns, and abdominal pain.

Silica - Found in nature as sand, quartz, flint, diatomite. Uses include manufacture of glass, ceramics, cosmetics, insecticides and abrasives. Hazard: Pneumoconiosis, Silicosis.

Sulfur dioxide - A colorless gas with sharp pungent odor. Uses include beer and wine preservative, fumigation, refrigeration, and production of sulfuric acid, potassium and sodium. Hazards: Highly toxic, symptoms include irritation and burning of eyes, nose, throat.

Tin - A silver white solid. Uses include tinplating, pewter, bronze, packaging and wrapping foil, organ pipes, dental amalgams, chemicals manufacture. Essential life element. Hazards: Eye and skin irritant. Combustible in the form of dust when exposed to heat or by spontaneous chemical reaction with various elements.

Turpentine - A colorless liquid with a penetrating odor; lighter than water. Uses include solvent, thinner for paint and varnish, insecticide, medicines and perfumes. Hazard: Flammable. Eye, nose, throat irritant. Headache and vertigo.

Zinc - A shining white metal with bluish gray luster extracted from ores. Uses include alloy manufacture, galvanizing iron, automotive parts, dry cell batteries, fungicides, nutrition (essential growth element). Hazard (dust): Flammable, dangerous fire and explosion risk. In bulk when damp may heat and ignite spontaneously on exposure to air. Hazard: Cough, dyspnea, and sweating. A human skin irritant. When heated, it evolves a fume of zinc oxide, which, when inhaled fresh, can cause “brass chills,” resulting in a sweet taste, throat dryness, cough, weakness, generalized aching, fever, nausea, and vomiting.