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Offline LynnBee

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Chemical exposure fears
« on: January 24, 2014, 05:29:55 PM »
I haven't had a HA scare in a while...but today has been bad...just writing to let it all out.

I work in a laboratory. One of the processes we use to analyze protein samples requires the use of methyl chlorolformate...I'll summarize the safety sheet for you: It's lethal. Doesn't take much to inhale before it kills you. But here's the kicker: The serious symptoms (pulmonary edema/respiratory failure) can present up to 24 hours after serious exposure. Mild symptoms include nasal/throat irritation and a cough that worsens as the gas damages your lungs more.

So this morning we get into work and my coworker discovers she left the MCF out overnight in the hood. Usually we keep it chilled overnight in the fridge. I left the room while she moved it from the hood to the fridge, came back a few minutes later for something else and noticed a weird smell, immediately walked back to another part of the room worrying it was MCF and spent a couple hours working in another part of the lab.

And since this morning my HA is convinced I've been exposed to MCF fumes and I'll be dying anytime now.

The logical part of me says:

1) The container was sealed
2) The container was sealed IN the chemical hood, which is inspected annually and supposedly works fine
3) No one else in the lab had any irritation/exposure symptoms as far as I know, including my coworker who was physically moving the chemical around the lab
4) Although I have mild symptoms (see below), they are probably not indicative of exposure
5) I don't know what methyl chloroformate smells like specifically, but our lab gets ALL sorts of odd smells considering we work with animals and they, well, smell haha

The HA part of me says:

1) The container may not have been sealed properly
2) Our chemical hoods are crowded, so although they pass inspection, I sometimes worry how good they are when we have all of our stuff in it (more crowded hoods = worse ventilation
3) The smell could have been an indication that fumes got out/further proof I breathed stuff in
4) I've had a sore throat and dry cough all day (logical part: I also slept on my back/with my mouth open all night so most likely post nasal drip)

The "good" thing is from what I understand although MCF is fatal the symptoms tend to get slowly worse, so if I actually start to develop edema I should have plenty of time to get health. But there's that nagging part of me that worries about all this. It's been like 8 hours since I was maybe exposed...I feel like I'm short of breath sometimes but I get "short of breath" when my anxiety acts up all the time! And I would assume that shortness of breath due to fluid in your lungs feels different than shortness of breath due to anxiety/hyperventilating...

Sorry for the long post. I'm more or less just trying to distract myself right now. I'm sure I'm fine. I guess I'll for sure by tomorrow afternoon but I also hate that I get all caught up in this, you know? Why can't I just tell myself I'm probably okay and even if I'm not, worrying about it won't change anything at this point?

I also haven't heard about anything from anyone else at work and I'd like to think they'd call us if a coworker is suspected of chemical exposure.
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Offline NytViolet

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Re: Chemical exposure fears
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 09:09:03 AM »
I'm not familiar with the chemical...how are you today?  Any symptoms? 
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God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Offline LynnBee

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Re: Chemical exposure fears
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 10:15:31 AM »
I have a serious sore throat this morning, but I don't think it has anything to do with the chemical. It feels more like strep throat. Considering I spent 2 hours outside yesterday in 0 degrees (F) for work it's probably from that.

But I don't have any coughing really so at this point I guess I'm okay...if I feel any worse though I'll probably go to the doctor just to see if I have strep.
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