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Poisoning and other risk with cargo contact onboard chemical tankers

Different chemicals affect the human body in many different ways. A general information and some practical advice are available in Appendix,7, of "Medical first aid guide for use in accidents involving dangerous goods" published by IMO, WHO and ILO ref (36).

The definition of "poisonous" and classification of poisons is not uniform throughout the world. We can define a poison as a substance which is harmful to human beings (or environment). In the IMO Code ref (25) a substance is classified as a poison if there is a risk of death or serious bodily harm after oral intake, inhalation or skin contact.

chemical tanker navigation at sea
The "poisonousness" of a substance is usually expressed in terms of LD 50- values, Lethal Dose (sometimes LC 509 Lethal Concentration). These values are determined by tests with animals and give the dose, expressed in mg/kg body weight, which kills 50 % of the animals in a test series. This figure gives a rough indication of the degree of toxity of a substance. Various species of animals have different sensitivity, which gives some problems in applying the results to human beings. Examples of LD 50 values (pesticides of three categories):

In industry the effect of long time exposure of low concentration to a substance is of prime concern. The expression used is TLV (Threshold Limit Value), previously called MAC (Max Allowable Concentration). The TLV-value expresses the concentration of a substance in air, in ppm (parts per 3 million) or mg/cm , which must not be exceeded if a daily 8-hour exposure over a long period of time shall be harmless.

TLV-values are published by National Authorities and various organizations. The most recognized list of TLV-values is probably the one published by ACGH (American Conference of Governmental Hygienists ref (15). The ICS-Guide ref(1) also gives TLV-values. The gas concentration can be measured by means of a portable apparatus described in 3. 10 (Drager, Auer). The scale of reference for gas exposure on board is normally TLV -values. Human beings can, however, tolerate a significantly higher concentration in a short time exposure:

Danger of serious poisoning

A person who is tired or ill is more sensitive than others and should not be asked to work with cargo handling. It is a good safety practice to use a breathing apparatus whenever the TLV-value in the atmosphere is exceeded

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