Hesperian Health Guides


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First aid when you breathe in a chemical

If a person has difficulty breathing, feels dizzy, confused, or nauseous, or if you see, smell, or feel a chemical release:

  1. Remove the person from the work area or factory so they can get fresh air. Make sure your workplace has a plan about what to do if a worker cannot move or loses consciousness.
  2. Help the person stay calm and comfortable.
  3. Give oxygen from an oxygen tank if the person has inhaled chemicals that:
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    • cause a severe asthma attack, such as isocyanates and some dyes.
    • cause liquid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema), such as ammonia and chlorine.
    • reduce oxygen in the air, such as methane and nitrogen.
    • reduce oxygen in the blood, such as carbon monoxide and methylene chloride.
    • make it hard for the body to use oxygen, such as cyanide and hydrogen sulfide.
  4. Take the person to a health worker, even if they feel better.
  5. If the person has stopped breathing, begin rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth breathing). Make sure your factory holds regular trainings on how to do rescue breathing.
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